Czech Police stop Romani barbecue to enforce local ordinance - even where it does not apply
Roughly 20 to 30 Romani people, most of them minors, gathered for a picnic at a park in Duchcov last month as part of a gathering organized by the Romane Kale Panthera (Romani Black Panther) group as a provocation. A local ordinance in Duchcov bans sitting outdoors in some parts of town and is obviously intended to target local Roma.
The video footage of this incident (see link below) meets all the parameters for one of the very best Czech tragicomedies. One police officer, evidently the head of the four-vehicle intervention against the group of picnickers, self-confidently hit the nail on the head with his opening remarks.
This officer was absolutely sure of himself, saying to the picnickers: "Do you know the ordinance of the town of Duchcov? Do you believe a picnic is allowed? Here in Duchcov? This kind of grilling in public, here?"
When the picnickers told him their picnic was indeed allowed, he responded: "I think not!" A confrontation then ensues during which the picnickers show him a copy of the municipal ordinance and its map, from which it is clear that the ordinance at issue does not apply to the park they are in.
The officer then takes his first fallback position - here is the exchange:
Police: "This is an open fire. You're grilling."
Picnicker: "This is not an open fire."
Police: "Well, it's grilling, it doesn't matter."
They then consult the ordinance again, which the officer evidently is less familiar with than the picnicking Roma are. He retreats to a more fundamentalist anti-grilling line: "You certainly can't just grill wherever you like!"
The officer next finds himself on firmer ground when answering a question posed by one of the picnickers: "Why are you here?"
Police: "Well, we see a larger number of people here."
Picnicker: "Is that a reason? Parks are for people to get together..."
Police: "Well, ok, but not in such numbers in one place. That's strange."
In order to confirm that he is now on the offensive, the officer redeploys his fundamentalist anti-grilling tactic: "Don't tell me it's normal to grill wherever you feel like it. That can't be."
Picnicker: "Well, don't be angry, but it's normal."
Police: "It might be normal somewhere else, but not in Duchcov."
Here, of course, he had evidently reached the point of not sounding completely convincing even to himself. After listening to more questions about why it is not possible to grill in an outdoor public space, he says: "We don't have a legal analysis here."
Picnicker: "So you yourself basically also don't know the answer."
Police: "I don't."
Be that as it may, he still writes up an official report on the incident: "This is for the needs of the Municipal Police, they will want to deal with this gentleman. He has operated a grill in public."
Grilling? What grilling?
This fundamentalist anti-grilling position evidently actually has no legal basis, so the Municipal Police subsequently explained their actions on their website as follows: "On the basis of the fact that in this case the obligation to announce an assembly to the authorities in advance had not been fulfilled, a patrol of local officers was sent to the scene together with the Police of the Czech Republic, which is empowered to disperse unauthorized assemblies...". In reality, of course, this was not about a grill, a picnic, a protest, or an unauthorized gathering.
Rhetorical questions for the police and politicians in Duchcov
(The "non-rhetorical" question news server Romea.cz has asked of the town of Duchcov as to whether it has issued an ordinance banning grilling in that particular park has yet to be answered.)
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