Czech mayor must either withdraw his candidacy today or be delisted as a candidate by his party ahead of local elections for his racist advocacy of violence against Romani people
Jaroslav Červinka, the Mayor of Poděbrady, Czech Republic, will not be running for the "Mayors and Independents" (STAN) movement in the local elections this year because of his racist remarks about Romani people - if he does not withdraw from the candidate list on his own, the chair of the movement, Vít Rakušan, will remove him. The Nymburk district cell of STAN has called on the mayor not to run for re-election.
The mayor was reportedly given until this evening to withdraw. "We adopted our communication to him on Thursday evening with the proviso that the mayor is meant to decide by Saturday," said Marek Michl, chair of the STAN cell in the Nymburk district.
"We spoke with him about it and he said he is considering different options for resolving the situation," Michl said. Speaking with the news server Deník.cz today, Červinka said: "I am considering withdrawing my candidacy."
"I will decide by Tuesday," the mayor told news server Deník.cz. If the mayor decides not to withdraw his candidacy for re-election, Michl said the decision will be up to the national chair of the movement.
"The candidate list was approved and signed before this scandal happened. Only the chair can change it, there are mechanisms within the movement for doing so," Michl told Deník.cz.
Chairman Rakušan says he has already decided what to do. "We are addressing this Poděbrady trouble," Rakušan said just before noon today.
"On Tuesday I clearly said the mayor's remarks are unacceptable, and I was not alone. On Wednesday, the supervisory board of our movement filed a motion to revoke Mr. Červinka's membership, their next board meeting will deal with that," the chair of STAN said.
"On Thursday, at my instigation, the local organization convened and called on the mayor to withdraw as a candidate. If he does not, then I will remove him, as I personally told him yesterday," the chair confirmed.
"I am hearing calls for 'exemplary', fast steps to be taken. However, I also perceive the necessity of allowing the mechanisms of our movement that are standard to work - and I am glad that in this case they are functioning," Rakušan said today.
Červinka told a story during a local assembly meeting in late June about an accident that allegedly happened in 2001, claiming police had not wanted to deal with the incident at the time because it had allegedly been caused by dogs who were allegedly owned by a Romani man. "I may be one of just a few mayors, or the only mayor, to have been officially reprimanded long ago by the head of the district office for being a racist. I decidedly do not support inadaptables and that reprimand back then was pretty much just a big joke, because I did what I did in front of a member of the Police of the Czech Republic when a traffic accident was being dealt with that had been caused by dogs owned by one of our Romani fellow-citizens. I showed up, identified the owner, and the police backed away, saying they did not want to address it because a Romani man was involved, and I then said my memorable sentence that it would be better to shoot them. The cop told me that they should not be shot, that the dogs could not help themselves, and I said I didn't mean it was the dogs who should be shot. That was a Friday afternoon. On Monday I was at the police station making a statement about my tendencies to racism and wanting to shoot our fellow-citizens, but that's not absolutely how it was, it was that I wanted it solved, I don't want to have to put up with such things. Clutter, dirt," the mayor said during the local assembly meeting.
The mayor reminisced about the episode while responding to local citizens' complaints about what they described as their poor coexistence with a family of Romani origin; in an interview for Deník N, he apologized and later published an apology to Facebook. Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Klára Laurenčíková Šimáčková called the mayor's remarks unacceptable.
Ivan Bartoš, chair of the Pirate Party in the Czech Republic who is also Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation and Minister of Regional Development, tweeted that the STAN movement should remove the mayor from the candidate list "like garbage" and added a pictogram of a Nazi swastika being thrown into a trash can. RomanoNet, an umbrella organization of pro-Romani and Romani NGOs, as well as Jaroslav Miko, the founder of the civil society initiative Czechs Are Helping (Češi pomáhají) and a member of the Czechoslovak Romani Union (Československá romská unie), have called on the mayor not to run for re-election.
Both non-Romani and Romani people also began signing an online petition with that same aim launched by the Romani activist Jan Houška. A crime report is also being filed against the mayor by RomanoNet.
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