Czech Republic: 400 Czech and Romani neighbors hold calm discussions while police hold neo-Nazis back
Yet another anti-Roma demonstration was slated to take place Saturday, 6 July in České Budějovice, where neo-Nazis have been threatening Romani people with violence. Police officers were prepared to intervene.
News server Romea.cz followed the situation and reported on it online in real time as follows:
Czech Police arrested more than 100 people today in České Budějovice as the result of today's neo-Nazi violence. For the time being the exact number of people who committed misdemeanors or felonies is not known. Seven people are reported injured, two of them police officers.
It seems the situation may finally be calming down. Even though there are still many people at the intersection near the Cine Star multiplex, they are evidently just "gawkers". The most aggressive neo-Nazis ended up on the police buses.
Several dozen people have once again assembled near the Cine Star multiplex. Another correspondent of ours reports police will evidently intervene again.
The riot police have erected a barricade at the intersection of Antonín Barcal and V. Volf Streets. "I see several dozen people there and more are gradually arriving, but from this distance I can't see whether they are neo-Nazis," our correspondent at the Máj housing estate reports.
Massive arrests are underway on K. Šafář street. A police bus has come to take about 50 right-wing extremists to the police station. Police are searching the right-wing extremists and putting them on the bus.
The Czech News Agency reports that three people have been lightly injured in today's violence, according to one of the emergency medical responders on the scene.
Police have arrested a large number of right-wing extremists. According to our information, dozens have been arrested.
All of our correspondents at the scene agree the police did not underestimate the situation this time and were well-prepared. Compared to last week, the intervention against the neo-Nazis was effective and professional.
Police are continuing to push the right-wing extremists back toward the center of town. It seems that unlike last week, the officers have managed to fulfill their intention of keeping the neo-Nazis and racists away from the Máj housing estate.
"A large number of police officers and equipment remain near the Cine Star multiplex," one of our correspondents reports. Another correspondent is accompanying about 200 people who have been pushed by the police into the neighboring Šumava housing estate.
Police have used their harsh intervention to push the neo-Nazis away from the Cine Star multiplex and further away from the Máj housing estate.
Police are continuing to intervene, the neo-Nazis are throwing bottles and rocks. Near the Cine Star multiplex the right-wing extremists are doing their best to push into the Máj housing estate. Mounted police officers are intervening and riot police are using tear gas.
The mob has attacked the police, who have intervened. "The riot officers used tactical explosives and have arrested the four most aggressive demonstrators," our correspondent reports.
An official from the town hall is prepared to once again officially disperse this unannounced assembly. If those assembling do not obey the instruction to disperse, the police will intervene.
On Antonín Barcal Street there are about 400 people, some of whom are right-wing extremists wearing masks. They are chanting "Bohemia for the Czechs" ("Čechy, Čechům"). "A rock was just thrown through the air at the police officers. The situation here is getting very dramatic," our correspondent reports directly from the scene.
According to information received by news server Romea.cz, the person at the head of the anti-Romani demonstration on Přemysl Otakar II Square is neo-Nazi Jaromír Pytel, nicknamed DJ Ferda, the former secretary of the Workers' Party cell in České Budějovice.
News server Deník.cz reports that several right-wing extremists are speaking loudly that they would like to meet up in another part of town and storm the Máj housing estate no matter the cost.
Police are releasing updated figures on the number of weapons confiscated and on their other activities this afternoon. "During the checks we found about 20 weapons including bars, baseball bats, and other objects that could have caused injury or damaged property. The 20 people who were carrying weapons were forbidden from entering certain places in town," police spokesperson Lenka Holická told the Czech News Agency.
About 100 anti-Romani demonstrators have evidently gotten close to the Máj housing estate. "Riot police are arriving here and mounted police officers are concentrating here as well," our correspondent reports from Antonín Barcal Street. "For the time being we can't see any extremists among them."
The assembly at the Máj housing estate is slowly coming to an end. "People are dispersing and the streets are slowly emptying. Only a couple of people remain outside," our correspondent reports directly from the scene.
Several dozen right-wing extremists have been stopped by police on another corner of the square. The police are uncompromising and do not want to allow them to make it all the way the Máj housing estate like they did last week. The only way they can leave the square is to exit one by one in the direction of Lannova Avenue, which is the opposite direction from the Máj housing estate.
The right-wing extremists are on the move. First they headed for Krajinská Street, which starts at Přemysl Otakar II Square. Now they are moving toward other streets that lead off the square. Most of them are heading toward U Černé věže and Kanovnická Streets.
A small group of right-wing extremists is now standing on the corner of the square (Radniční and Biskupská Streets) chanting: "Let us at them!" Police officers from the anti-conflict team are doing their best to negotiate with them. The right-wing extremists are shouting vulgar curses at the riot officers. The town hall has official ordered the dispersal of this unannounced event.
The online Police Weekly (Týdeník Policie) is reporting that during the checks of vehicles driving into České Budějovice five
"persons of interest" were stopped who had participated in the violent demonstration last week. They shouted at the police officers. An axe was found in their vehicle.
Police riot officers have barricaded Biskupská and Radniční Streets. Several dozen right-wing extremists are being prevented from marching toward the Máj housing estate.
The area around the Baroque-era Samson's Fountain on Přemysl Otakar II Square is now empty. Several groups of right-wing extremists are standing on one corner of the square and police officers from the anti-conflict team are moving among them. Whistling can be heard from time to time. There are significantly fewer people gathered here than last week, which is evidently a big disappointment for the right-wing extremists.
Přemysl Otakar II Square in the center of České Budějovice is slowly starting to empty. The small clumps of right-wing extremists who have been standing here roughly since 16:00 have started dispersing. For the time being there has not been any kind of real assembly - the ordinary citizens of České Budějovice have evidently given the neo-Nazis a clear message, "No". However, knots of right-wing extremists are now wandering around town. People are trying to guess where the right-wing extremists will meet up next in order to attack the peaceful assembly ongoing at the Máj housing estate.
"The atmosphere here is just astonishing. People are speaking face to face and the tension that was here is slowly disappearing. Romani people are saying what bothers them about their Czech neighbors and the Czechs are saying what bothers them about their co-existence with their Romani neighbors. I consider this afternoon at the Máj housing estate to have been an enormous success in unequivocally reducing tensions here," Miroslav Brož of Konexe tells news server Romea.cz from the Máj housing estate.
The debate at the Máj housing estate has been very harsh at times, but everything is taking place without any violence. Finally, neighbors are speaking with one another irrespective of their nationality. "People are discussing everything with one another and exchanging opinions," our correspondent reports from the Máj housing estate.
The unannounced anti-Romani demonstration on the square has not yet begun. Small groups of people are scattered around the square. Our correspondent estimates there might be between 100 and 150 people on the square.
"The activity of the Police of the Czech Republic is primarily concentrated for now on verifying various calls from citizens of the town. Police are also preventatively checking people who might be heading to the ongoing assembly at the Máj housing estate, whether they object to that gathering or whether they are its patrons, as well as other small groups of people moving in the neighborhood of the housing estate and the town center," reads an official declaration published on the website of the town of České Budějovice.
"Police are monitoring the movement of several small groups of people who are forming mobs in the regional capital and have probably come here to support either the assembly at the Máj housing estate or those participating in an unannounced gathering," police spokesperson Lenka Holická told the Czech News Agency.
The first right-wing extremists have begun arriving on Přemysl Otakar II Square in the center of České Budějovice, where according to our information, they intend to hold an unannounced anti-Roma assembly. Some have come to the square equipped with flags. Many uniformed municipal and state police officers are moving around on the square as well as plainsclothes officers. Police vehicles are parked on all of the streets leading to the square and patrols are checking the identification of small groups of people whom they believe to be promoters of the ultra-right.
The discussion about current co-existence is continuing at the Máj housing estate and almost 400 people are watching. "Not just Romani people, but other residents of the Máj housing estate are here. They are discussing this issue with the Romani residents and the situation is completely calm. Everyone, irrespective of nationality, agrees the neo-Nazis do not belong here," our correspondent describes the situation.
People at the Máj housing estate do not believe violence will happen here today. At the bus turnaround, where the mounted police officers have gathered, many people have met up, including families with chidren. "They are photographing the situation as if it were a circus attraction," news server Deník.cz reports.
"If they believed something would kick off here, they would not have brought their children along. In my opinion, nothing will happen at the housing estate today. The extremists wouldn't dare with so many police officers here," Daniela Bendová, there with her young daughter Kamila, told news server Deník.cz. Last Saturday neo-Nazis threw glass bottles and rocks here.
According to Mayor Juraj Thoma (Citizens for Budějovice - OPB) only one demonstration has been announced to the town hall for today. "It's the one on the streets of the Máj housing estate that was announced by Markus Pape as an all-day rally. Those rallies are repeatedly announced for that location until 29 September," the mayor told the Czech News Agency. Those assemblies are being organized by the Konexe civic association.
The announced discussion of the current situation is taking place at the housing estate. Among those present are the director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, Martin Šimáček, and representatives of the Equal Opportunities Party leadership Čeněk Růžička and Štefan Tišer.
Police officers have confiscated several weapons from vehicles driving into České Budějovice, mostly baseball bats, the Police Weekly (Týdeník Policie) reports on Facebook.
The neo-Nazis are expected to gather around 16:00. Police are also patrolling the train station and checking the people arriving there.
Neither the police nor the town hall leadership are revealing whether an anti-Romani demonstration has been officially announced for today and if so, whether the town has banned it. Riot officers in vehicles and a water cannon are prepared at the Máj housing estate and a helicopter is monitoring the town from above. A crisis committee is meeting at the town hall. For the time being it is calm overall in the town.
"There will be a sermon and then a discussion. We want to give everyone the opportunity to express themselves regarding the current situation at the Máj housing estate in České Budějovice. We have agreed to stay here as long as it is safe," Miroslav Brož of the Konexe association told news server Romea.cz.
Evangelical clergyman Mikuláš Vymětal, together with about 200 people, is praying for peace and peaceful coexistence between nations on V. Volf Street.
The Konexe civic association is holding a religious assembly on V. Volf street.
The police are better prepared than they were last Saturday. Unlike last week, they have a mounted officers and a water cannon in town. Police patrols are in position at the roads leading into town and are checking all vehicles.
"For the being we are monitoring the situation and we haven't had to intervene. The town is currently calm. Should any unrest occur, we are prepared to establish order with the means prescribed by law," Lenka Holická, spokesperson for the South Bohemian Regional Police, said.
Between 150 and 200 people, most of them Romani, have come to V. Volf Street at the Máj housing estate. "There are both local Roma and Roma from neighboring cities here, such as from Písek. The locals are very afraid, at first they didn't want any flags or speeches, they just wanted to stand here and defend their homes if necessary. In the end there are some flags and signs up and speeches are being prepared. The start should be at about 13:00," our correspondent directly at the scene reports.
All garbage containers have been removed from the Máj housing estate. Last week the neo-Nazis used them to build barricades and threw their contents at police officers.
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Tags:České Budějovice, Demonstrace, Extremism, Racism, sídliště Máj, Strana rovných příležitostí, Šíření nenávisti a nesnášenlivosti, vandalismus, Czech republic, Čeněk Růžička, Konexe, o. s., Neo-Nazism, news, Roma
on 17 July.
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