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Commentary by Pavel Pospěch: Romani people "on the attack in Brno"

Prague, 11.5.2012 20:32, (Blog RESPEKT)

Romani crime is getting out of control and street violence is happening here every day. What's more, the media are on the side of the Romani people and are completely ignoring this problem. That means we ordinary people must share our experiences and knowledge even more so politicians will know we are not indifferent to these Romani attacks!

I'll tell you what happened to my friends. They were wandering around the streets of Brno at night a few days ago, looking for someplace open so they could continue their passionate discussion over a beer. On one street they picked up a companion, a rather tattered person who might have been homeless. He had been drinking and didn't try very hard to stick with them, but their happy company in the middle of the night must have attracted him. He joined my four friends and trailed behind them at a bit of a distance.

Suddenly, it happened. They heard rapid steps and out of nowhere, two strongly-built Romani men appeared. They ran up behind my friends, maybe from a nearby street. They jumped after the homeless guy and knocked him to the ground with several hard punches. It only took an instant. The homeless man was lying on the ground and my friends were just standing there. They didn't know what to do. The Romani guys also just stood there, but they were smiling. "Is that a friend of yours?" one of them asked. "We thought he was someone else," he said with a nice smile, almost apologetically. "So what are you going to do now?" he asked my friends. "Will you leave it like this?" My friends didn't know what to say. They were three men and one woman, none of them brawlers, standing opposite two well-built Romani criminals who obviously wanted to start a fight. "We'll give him 20 crowns, right?" the other Romani guy grimaced. "That should fix it, right?" They were both enjoying themselves tremendously. They had beaten up a homeless guy for fun and now they were enjoying humiliating the people who had to watch it.

My friends did the only thing that occurred to them at that moment. They called the police and reported the incident, but by the time a police patrol made it to the scene, it was over. The bruised homeless man slowly picked himself up off the sidewalk and the Romani guys calmly left. Maybe they went to toast their successful fun with a drink. Maybe they went to beat up someone else. On the streets at night there are plenty of lonely targets.

This is a real story. Now, about its casting....

Everything I have written here really did take place. Just one thing is incorrect: The assailants were not Romani. They were white Czechs, like you and me. One special sign was that they both had shaved heads.

Not Romani people, but white Czechs. What's the difference? Well, they probably grew up in an ordinary house or apartment, not in a residential hotel with 10 other people in one room. Not in a derelict building in the worst part of town. They probably did not attend "special" school. They attended an ordinary elementary school, like you or me, and they could choose where they were going on to study. Their parents and siblings also did not attend a "special" school, so these two guys did not have to grow up among people whose only education came from the "special" school. Their mother tongue is probably Czech, which at school is naturally an advantage. Their relatives are not in prison and their family is not paying off loan sharks at murderous interest rates. The color of their skin is the same as everyone else. Security guards don't shadow them at the supermarket. When they ride the tram, the ticket-checker doesn't head across an entire car straight for them. They probably are not suffering from material distress. They don't live surrounded by people dependent on drugs and gambling. None of that could explain why they assault people, no. When they beat people up, it's just for their own amusement.

What is the biggest difference? If they were Romani, you would have known about this story from the front pages of the newspapers. The online news servers would have been tripping over themselves to report from the scene of the crime. People would be sharing the texts of those reports on social networking sites. Advertisers would be rubbing their hands with glee to find their advertisements next to an article that was delivering so brilliantly. The Workers' Youth would be announcing a march through Brno.

However, these people were not Romani, so at the most you will read about this occurrence on a blog like this one. After all, God knows what really happened. They definitely were drunk, those friends of mine, and God knows what they really saw. Maybe they even provoked it. What were they looking for in the middle of the night? What was the homeless guy looking for there? He shouldn't be surprised at all.

When the perpetrators are not Romani, it's not news for the home page of iDNES.cz, just a banal pub story. Those two violent men can calmly continue to beat up homeless people and anyone else they get their hands on. At the weekend they'll put on their black t-shirts, the ones they wear on special occasions, and travel to Břeclav or some other town where the media will be holding another course on "Romani violence". There, as part of a march organized by the Workers' Party or one of its variations, they will loudly demonstrate against the fact that Romani people have beaten someone up.

Originally published in Czech at http://pospech.blog.respekt.ihned.cz/c1-55765610-romove-zautocili-v-brne

Reprinted from the author's blog on the website of RESPEKT. Published with the kind consent of the author.

Gwendolyn Albert, Pavel Pospěch, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 698x

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