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Czech Police detain dozens of anti-Roma demonstrators in České Budějovice for a third Saturday in a row

České Budějovice, 15.7.2013 3:29, (ROMEA)
During an anti-Romani assembly at the Máj housing estate in České Budějovice on 13 July 2013, police officers detained as many as 60 people who refused to leave the scene after police instructed them to. (PHOTO:  ČTK)
During an anti-Romani assembly at the Máj housing estate in České Budějovice on 13 July 2013, police officers detained as many as 60 people who refused to leave the scene after police instructed them to. (PHOTO: ČTK)

On Saturday, 13 July, an anti-Roma assembly at the Máj housing estate in České Budějovice resulted in police officers detaining about 60 protestors who refused to leave the housing estate despite police orders to do so. About 300 people participated in the demonstration, but the police outnumbered them and managed to prevent them from moving into the area of the housing estate where the Romani community resides. 

Compared to the last two weekends during which protestors clashed with police, the situation at the scene was relatively calm, according to the Czech News Agency. After 20:30 officers withdrew from the main roads and simply monitored the situation. 

Another assembly had been scheduled to take place on the main square after noon, but not enough people turned up for it and the organizers cancelled. A peaceful Czech-Romani gathering was held in the center of the Máj housing estate by the Konexe association.

The demonstration that marched on the Máj housing estate was convened by organizers under the title "Against Police Brutality". Those attending met near the multiplex cinema and several dozen of them tried in vain to get past the police cordon at the intersection of M. Horáková and Ant. Barcal Streets which prevented them from accessing the center of the housing estate.

Police officers significantly outnumbered demonstrators. There were many police vehicles and riot units at the scene.

Mounted police participated in the intervention and the situation was monitored by a police helicopter. Police called on the demonstrators to clear the area and received curses in response. Some of the most active demonstrators tried to circumvent the police cordon, but the riot units managed to respond in time and push them back.  

Approximately 60 people then ended up in police handcuffs. Their detention was watched by many residents from the windows of the surrounding buildings.

"All of the persons detained were given enough time to leave the area but did not do so. Most of them were detained for failure to obey a police order," South Bohemian Regional Police spokesperson Jiří Matzner told journalists.

Police say a total of 57 people committed the misdemeanor offense of failure to obey a police officer's order and three are suspected of felony violence against a public official. One of those detained assaulted a mounted officer. Three protesters suffered minor injuries during the police intervention. 

Prior to that demonstration at the housing estate another anti-Romani assembly had been scheduled to take place on Přemysl Otakar II. Square which organizers had counted on approximately 1 000 people attending. In the end, however, only several dozen made it there and the organizers cancelled.

Neo-Nazi Jaromír Pytel, who is being referred to by the mainstream media as a "communications facilitator" between the town hall and the demonstration organizers, told journalists at the scene that the organizers were cancelling because they were afraid. According to one demonstrator, the event did not take place because many people backed out at the last minute.

"Messages started getting lost on Facebook, the communications were suddenly slowed down by someone. I believe that was no coincidence and when I see how few people came, it probably fulfilled its purpose," demonstrator Ivo Burdík said.

An anti-Roma protest was also held that same day in the town of Duchcov, (Teplice district), where approximately 40 people gathered in the afternoon. The event on the town square had not been previously announced to authorities and police recorded two misdemeanor offenses in connection with it.

The atmosphere in Duchcov has been tense since 18 May, when five Romani people assaulted a young non-Romani married couple there. For more on the protest there on 13 July, see http://www.romea.cz/en/news/czech/czech-republic-about-40-people-attend-anti-roma-assembly-in-duchcov

In connection with the previous demonstrations and marches on the Máj housing estate, police have now charged a total of five men with committing violence against public officials. Hundreds of riot units have been deployed for these events and have detained dozens of people during the street clashes.

The conflicts at the housing estate began on 21 June, when children got into a conflict on the playground there that was subsequently joined by adults. In response to that conflict an anti-Roma demonstration was held on 29 June, after which several hundred demonstrators headed for the housing estate, some of whom clashed with police officers.

The following Saturday, 6 July, anti-Roma demonstrators gathered in the town center for an unannounced demonstration that was ordered dispersed by the town hall. The demonstrators then tried to access the housing estate but the riot units intervened.  

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