Czech Police intervene against those counter-protesting demonstration featuring Le Pen, Salvini, Wilders and a neo-Nazi band
Hundreds of people assembled yesterday afternoon on Wenceslas Square in Prague for a demonstration by the populist-xenophobic "Freedom and Direct Democracy of Tomio Okamura" movement (Svoboda a přímá demokracie Tomia Okamury - SPD Tomia Okamury) movement against what it alleges is the "dictatorship of the European Union". Counter-protesters gathered in both the lower and the upper parts of the square.
The Czech News Agency (ČTK) reported that dozens of police monitored the situation, including anti-conflict and riot officers. Some altercations could not be prevented and riot units later pushed those counter-protesting the SPD away from the location.
The program organized by the SPD began after 16:00 with a performance by the controversial Ortel band, which lasted roughly 45 minutes. ČTK reported that hundreds of people turned out for that aspect of the event.
Riot police kept them away from the counter-protesters on the sidewalks lining the square who had come to object to the SPD with banners reading "We want to live in the EU, even with all of you in it." Radim Fiala, the SPD vice-chair, called on members of the movement to report any problems with "provocateurs" to the police.
Officers called more than once on those counter-protesting to leave the upper part of Wenceslas Square and move back into Opletalova Street. "In the upper part of Wenceslas Square, dozens of people continue to disrupt the course of a properly-announced event despite repeated police calls to desist," the Czech Police tweeted.
"The officers have no choice but to use force," the Czech Police announced on the social network. The SPD program was interrupted and police intervened against the people counter-protesting those who disseminate hatred and neo-Nazism.
The counter-demonstrators then shouted "Gestapo! Gestapo!" at the police. Photographs of adherents of the SPD Tomia Okamury movement giving the Nazi salute then appeared on social media.
The chair of the SPD made an appearance at the protest, as did the leader of the movement's candidate list for next month's elections to the European Parliament, Ivan David. Among the international guests attending the SPD demonstration was the chair of France's "National Rally", Marine Le Pen, as well as the chair of the "Freedom Party" in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, who spoke of the European Union as an undemocratic super-state doing its best to deprive nation-states of their sovereignty.
The chair of Italy's Lega party, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, sent a brief video greeting to the assembly. Meanwhile, more than 100 counter-demonstrators also gathered in the lower part of Wenceslas Square for a counter-protest "happening".
Blowing whistles or clashing cymbals, they did their best to disrupt what was going on in the lower part of the square, calling their activity a "Noise Olympics". Dozens of officers from the anti-conflict police team were at that location.
The Platform against Hate Speech also convened a demonstration at a different place, the Square of Peace (náměstí Míru). In addition to representatives of that initiative who marched after 16:45 down to Wenceslas Square, those speaking at that event were the brother of the SPD chair, Hayato Okamura (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL) and Czech MEP Jaromír Štětina (ESO - Europe Together).
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