Czech Police investigating Nazi symbols on 14 buildings in Ústí nad Orlicí
Graffiti with Nazi and radical motifs was spray-painted yesterday on buildings in Ústí nad Orlicí, Czech Republic, and the Roškot Theater, which is protected as a national cultural heritage building, now has a Nazi swastika on it. Mayor Petr Hájek (Oušťáci) told the Czech News Agency (ČTK) that police are investigating the case.
For the time being, 14 damaged buildings have been documented. Police spokesperson Markéta Janovská told ČTK more than CZK 100 000 [EUR 4 000] worth of damage has been done.
"We've never had to deal with this issue and investigate it before. If graffiti ever appeared here it was random, more like child's play," the mayor said.
"There has never been a more extensive action like this one. We have to grapple with removing the graffiti now," Hájek said.
"We will be consulting conservationists," the mayor added. A ČTK reporter on the scene has confirmed that somebody has spray-painted a Nazi swastika on the front facade of the theater, while the name of what is apparently a football club has been spray-painted on the back of the building.
The CCTV camera at the theater has been forcibly removed. The other graffiti, according to the mayor, was spray-painted on private buildings on Jilemnického, J. Nygrína and V Lukách Streets.
A ČTK photographer has documented that the vandal spray-painted two lightning bolts, the symbol of the Nazi SS units, as well as the acronym "A.C.A.B." ("All Cops Are Bastards") on the buildings. That phrase is used by football hooligans and by both the radical left and radical right.
One building was spray-painted with the name of the Polish football club Arka Gdynia. The vandal or vandals spray-painted apartment buildings, a fence, a car service shop and a tin shed.
The police spokesperson said the damages could eventually be assessed as costing even more to repair because the theater is a protected national cultural heritage building. Local police are investigating the case as one of property damage.
State detectives specializing in extremism are also investigating and the charges may be expanded after their assessment is made, according to the spokesperson. "Officers are documenting the spray-painted buildings, taking statements from their owners, drawing on footage from the CCTV systems, and also looking for the perpetrators," she said.
Police have accused two young men of displaying sympathy for a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms who spray-painted SS symbols and swastikas in several places in the city of Most in 2016. At the same time, officers have been interrogating others accused of committing property damage in the past.
"The culprit may not know or may not want to know what happened in Europe during World War II. I am appalled by these various efforts to deny the Holocaust and the activities of extremists," Martin Netolický (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD), the Governor of the Pardubice Region, said in condemnation of the incident on Facebook.
"I hope this sad case will be thoroughly investigated," the Governor said. The theater that was vandalized dates from 1936 and has been a national cultural heritage building since 2017.
The facility was built by financial contributions from associations, business people and ordinary residents. It was designed by the eminent Czech architect Kamil Roškot.
The theater is a significant functionalist building from the first half of the 20th century. Since 1993 it has been named after the man who designed it.
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