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August 14, 2022



Czech police use dehumanizing terms if incidents involve Romani people, the media parrot them - and then pogroms begin

18.7.2020 9:07
Approximately 100 people protested against a neo-Nazi assembly announced for 21 September 2013 in Přerov, Czech Republic. The counter-protest was convened by the
Approximately 100 people protested against a neo-Nazi assembly announced for 21 September 2013 in Přerov, Czech Republic. The counter-protest was convened by the "Let's Block the Marches!" (Blokujeme!) platform. (PHOTO: Blokujeme!)

The regional network of the Dení news server has held a stable position as one of the most-read publications in the Czech Republic, and when it reports about Romani people, it goes as far as it can in the use of stereotypes, including publishing content that baits them. This "tradition" has now been upheld by the Přerov edition, which has published an article about two men who scuffled in public there on 15 July (the article was headlined "Romská bitka na přerovském náměstí, potyčka se strhla u cukrárny" - "Romani battle on Přerov square, skirmish breaks out near confectioner's").

Local police response, understandably, has to be mentioned by this coverage. "At our operations center we received several phone calls about a brawl among inadaptables outside a confectioners' in the center of town. The permanent staff on duty aimed the CCTV cameras there and began to deploy patrols," Miroslav Komínek, Deputy Director of the Municipal Police in Přerov, described their intervention to Dení

"The presence of the patrols again enraged the quarrelling clans, whose members attacked each other, causing a great ruckus. After the patrol members used tear gas, the two parties separated and the situation gradually began to calm down," the Deputy Director told the daily, adding that the patrol members remained at the scene for several dozen minutes afterward until it was entirely calm.

What basically happened was that two individuals got angry with each other and fought each other physically. A third person did his best to separate them.

Can you imagine how the Czech media would report on a brawl between two men - and there are many such incidents here, day in and day out - if they had not been Romani? Or rather, "inadaptables", if we are to remain faithful to the Přerov edition's description?

By using that term, the Deputy Director of the local police is sending a message to the news consumers that the brawlers were "inadaptables", not "decent" people, and the journalist willingly parrots that vocabulary. Information about a brawl between two ethnic Czech men would not be worth reporting, but an altercation between two darker-skinned people - which, for the journalist and the local police, is automatically evidence that they are "inadaptables" - is too tempting to ignore.

This kind of baiting of the Roma is a tried-and-true tactic for increasing readership, and has been for years. If you say and write that this was allegedly a clash between "clans" (without providing evidence), then that's even more eye-catching.

"Look at this, wow, two cikánské gangs just beat up all of Přerov," is how the gossips will embellish this news to "improve" upon it. Not long ago, in that very same part of the country, such "information" was a component of an anti-Romani campaign that drove ordinary citizens into the streets who did not hesitate to demonstrate alongside neo-Nazis and to shout anti-Romani slogans together with them.

Many people even invented accounts of having been mugged by Romani people which, in that upset atmsophere, resulted in more mass demonstrations and another dosage of hate against Romani people. Do we actually want those times to come back just so a media company can turn a higher profit?

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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