Polish President Andrzej Duda last visited the statue in 2016.
JERSEY CITY — Polish President Andrzej Duda stopped at Exchange Place on Wednesday as Jersey City and the region's Polish community remained locked in a fight over the city's plan to relocate the Katyn monument.
Duda and his entourage met with Mayor Steve Fulop and his entourage under a tent set up near the statue, which commemorates the massacre of over 20,000 Polish people during World War II.
The visit lasted a few minutes.
Duda arrived by car, chatted with Fulop, placed a wreath on the monument and left.
The Polish president did not speak to the press, but Fulop described his conversation with Duda as "fairly straight-forward" and "spontaneous." "He said, I'd prefer for it to stay here but if it's not possible it needs to be in a place that's respected and dignified," Fulop said.
Duda is on a pre-planned visit to the region on United Nations business.
He visited the statue in 2016.
A Jersey City official who saw the president and mayor's interaction described it as awkward.
Fulop, 41, gave Duda a small replica of the Katyn statue and a Jersey City flag.
Duda, 46, gave Fulop a book with some history of the 1940 massacre that inspired the monument, which was unveiled in 1991.
The city sparked the trans-Atlantic row when it revealed it wanted to move the 34-foot monument to make way for a $5 million new park at Exchange Place.
The Polish ambassador to the United States and the country's consul general in New York initially resisted any effort to move the statue but announced a compromise with Fulop on Monday: the city will put the statue to the foot of York Street, one block south of its current location, and create a new park with the monument as its centerpiece.
The resolution has not pleased everyone. Councilman Rich Boggiano, who wants the statue to remain, called the ambassador a "piece of s***" for agreeing with the city's plan to move it.
A request for comment from a spokesman for the ambassador was not returned.
Two groups of protesters were gathered at Exchange Place for Duda's visit.
They were kept by barriers from getting more than about 20 feet from the tent where the Jersey City and Polish officials were gathered to avoid the rain.
Some chanted "Shame" when Duda left the area.
A police officer ordered a protester holding a banner addressed to Duda — it read in part, "Where is your honor and dignity?" — to move farther away from the crowd.
"If he doesn't move, lock him up," another officer yelled.
An officer escorted the man west toward Montgomery Street.
Albio Sires, D-West New York, announced today that he introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to recognize memorials and monuments to the Katyn massacre.
"It is my hope that these memorials and monuments dedicated to this atrocity continue to stand for generations to come in New Jersey and across the globe," said Sires, who is feuding with Fulop over plans to unseat County Executive Tom DeGise.
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