Czech media again exaggerate assault incident, promote antigypsyist stereotypes
Media in the Czech Republic keep reporting increasingly higher and higher numbers of Romani people who are alleged to have assaulted a police patrol in the town of Krupka. The incident happened Tuesday evening when a two-member patrol of a female and a male officer were addressing a traffic accident.
News server iDNES.cz reported that the patrol were attacked by as many as 30 local Romani people. From the video footage of the incident that has been posted to the Internet, however, it is clear to see that just two people committed that assault while attempting to prevent the driver of the vehicle from being arrested and that the other people at the scene are doing their best to aid the policewoman who was injured and to call an ambulance.
What's more, those who come to the aid of the injured policewoman can be seen condemning in vulgar language the two Romani people who committed the assault. Police spokesperson Daniel Vítek said on Wednesday that: "Yesterday after 9:30 PM a police patrol were addressing a traffic accident on Karel Čapek Street in Krupka. Several local residents gathered at the scene, some of whom began interfering with the officers performing their duties. They did not obey repeated calls to stop their behavior and the officers were then assaulted and had to use force in response."
In its article about the incident, news server iDNES.cz republished information from the JV Press agency, which runs the online news servers of the regional tabloids. News server Romea.cz has previously analyzed the methods of "journalism" used by JV Press as far back as 2013.
"The JV Press media agency published an account describing the accident as having been caused by a drunken driver and as many as 30 local Romani people running to the scene to defend somebody they knew there. According to an eyewitness there is video footage taken with a mobile telephone in which one of the assailants can be seen striking the policewoman on the head and then throwing a rock at her from behind. The woman reportedly came away from the clash with facial injuries, broken glasses and a trampled mobile phone. Her colleague from the patrol allegedly has an injured arm," iDNES.cz reported.
News server Denik.cz reported the story in similar terms. "It was 9:30 PM when several residents from the local Horní Maršov housing estate, which is mostly inhabited by Romani people, gathered on Karel Čapek Street at the scene of a crashed personal vehicle and its driver near whom a police patrol was standing. Some members of the group of Roma began to first verbally assault the police patrol and then to physically attack them, after which the officers ultimately ended up in the hospital," Deník.cz reported.
Both news servers made absolutely no distinctions among the kinds of onlookers at the incident. According to their reporting, there was just a uniform mass of Romani people who verbally assaulted the patrol and some of whom even physically attacked them.
According to the video footage posted to the Internet, however, the situation at the scene was different than it has been reported. The footage shows the intervention by the police patrol, who do their best to put handcuffs on the drunken perpetrator of the accident while he is on the ground.
Two Romani people are standing very close to the officers, while the rest are further away and are shouting to the two Romani people who are closer that they should go away. "Be careful about his belly, he just had an operation," the audio accompanying the video footage captures somebody saying.
After that, one of the two Romani people closest to the patrol assaults the policewoman. Once again, a Romani onlooker who is doing his best to calm the situation calls out to them: "Žolták, get out of there!"
The policewoman then walks away and is struck by a rock. It was apparently thrown not by the first man who struck her, but by the second one who had been standing in close proximity to the police.
She cries out and kneels down in the road. The Romani bystanders are horrified.
We hear one Romani person shout in English "Oh my God!" Another does his best to warn the male officer that his colleague is apparently injured: "Mr Policeman, help, help, something's wrong with her."
Another Romani man can be heard to say "This can't be possible." The officer then turns to the Romani onlookers and asks whether any of them has a telephone.
"Who here has a phone?" a local Romani man repeats to the onlookers. "Call an ambulance," he says to another Romani man and then says to the officer again: "Sir, here's a telephone to call the ambulance."
The fact that just two of the Romani onlookers assaulted the police patrol was confirmed by the police spokesperson. "In connection with the attack on the officers two persons were arrested and detectives are now intensively working on clarifying the circumstances of the case in detail," the spokesperson said.
This is not the first time the media have reported in a biased way about an assault on a police officer in Krupka. In September 2017 the newspaper Mf DNES reported on an attack allegedly committed by 50 Romani people against local police.
It later emerged that the clash had actually involved just four people. As in the reporting on this more recent case, the daily did not distinguish in its reporting last year between the Romani people who were just bystanders to the conflict and those who were the actors in it.
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