Czech Republic: 200 neo-Nazis, same number of counter-protesters march in Ústí nad Labem
About 200 neo-Nazis gathered today in Ústí nad Labem for an assembly and march through the center of town. The event was convened at 14:00 as an electoral rally of the right-wing extremist Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS).
Opponents of the neo-Nazis also gathered in Ústí. News server Romea.cz followed the situation in the town on-line.
The situation after the DSSS march was ultimately calm. Police arrested one neo-Nazi for assaulting anti-fascists. Thank you for your attention, we are ending our online reporting. You will find more information in a follow-up article.
The neo-Nazis have returned to Mírové náměstí. DSSS leader Tomáš Vandas has officially ended their assembly.
At the end of the DSSS march there were several scuffles between the neo-Nazis and those opposed to them. First about eight people attempted to block the neo-Nazi march, but police intervened against them. The neo-Nazis then attempted to assault a small group of anti-fascists. Police had to intervene.
The neo-Nazi march is passing through the town. A group of people dressed as clowns is ridiculing them.
The Romani people in Klíšská Street are turning around and heading for Mánesový sady park.
The DSSS assembly has ended with a speech by the chair of the NPD youth organization and the neo-Nazis have set out on their march through Ústí nad Labem.
About 100 Romani people have been stopped at the intersection of Klíšská Street and Prokopa Diviše Street. They are accompanied by another 100 opponents of neo-Nazism. Police will not let them proceed further because the DSSS march is supposed to pass by in a moment just a few meters from that spot. The anti-racists are holding banners that read "Stop pogroms", "1 May is a time for love", and "Fascism is no solution". They are chanting slogans such as "Black, white, let's unite".
The DSSS assembly has been interrupted by several girls chanting a rhyme that mocks the slogan "Bohemia for the Czechs". The leader of the DSSS has begun complaining to the police and is asking that the girls be stopped. They left of their own accord.
About 70 Romani people are marching toward Mánesový sady park. They stopped at the intersection with Klíšská Street and are now discussing what will happen next with police.
Our correspondent says there are about 100 opponents of neo-Nazism in Mánesový sady park.
The DSSS leader has finished speaking on the square. His speech attacked the European Union and immigrants. He was interrupted by the audience chanting "Bohemia for the Czechs". Now Kathrin Kohlër of the extremist NPD party in Germany has begun speaking.
The Konexe association is holding an afternoon of entertainment for children in the Předlice ghetto. Their volunteers, including clergy and a psychologist, are inside buildings on Klíšská Street.
Police report that roughly 100 anarchists have arrived in town, including approximately 40 anti-fascists from Germany. They drove into town in six vans, which were checked by police patrols just like all the other vehicles on the access roads. As we reported earlier, police officers have arrested two opponents of neo-Nazism for assaulting members of a police anti-conflict team. Police spokesperson Šárka Poláčková says a small group of roughly 10 anarchists also provoked a conflict with riot police in the town center. A specially trained dog was used in the police maneuver, but no drugs were found in the vehicles.
The DSSS assembly has begun. Tomáš Vandas, the DSSS leader, is speaking to about 200 neo-Nazis. "This is the lowest turnout for 1 May in the past few years," our correspondent reports from the scene.
The neo-Nazi event has been postponed another 15 minutes. Reportedly they are still waiting for another bus.
Equal Opportunities Party (SRP) candidates in the EP elections have come to the square to discuss issues with the neo-Nazis. The neo-Nazis began to insult SRP candidate Emilie Horáčková, saying she doesn't have a job. She defended herself, saying: "I have been working since I was 18 years old." The police anti-conflict team ultimately ended the debate and led Horáčková away. SRP candidate Miroslav Kováč also debated with the neo-Nazis.
There are already about 40 neo-Nazis from Germany on the square. The total number of neo-Nazis is about 200 now. The conveners of the DSSS event say they are postponing its start by about 15 minutes because police have detained several busloads of their supporters. Others are expected to arrive from Brno.
"Romani music is playing in Mánesový sady and people are enjoying 1 May. There are about 50 people here," our correspondent reports from the scene where the Green Party is holding its "happening".
The DSSS assembly is supposed to start now. However, their supporters are not all on the square yet, as police officers are performing thorough checks of them.
About 25 neo-Nazis from the NPD youth organization in Germany have arrived on Mírové náměstí. Police officers are thoroughly checking them as they have all of the others coming to the square. Our correspondent estimates there are about 100 people on the square now.
Police have only arrested two people so far today. Police spokesperson Šárka Poláčková has confirmed that to news server Romea.cz
Tomáš Vandas, leader of the DSSS, has just arrived at Mírové náměstí, accompanied by party vice-chairs Jiří Štěpánek and Tomáš Kebza (once a member of the now-defunct militant neo-Nazi National Resistance group). There are very few DSSS supporters on the square. Our correspondent estimates their number at 30, but other DSSS supporters are said to be dispersed throughout the town who have not yet made it to the square.
Map of DSSS march.
The Equal Opportunities Party (Strana rovných příležitostí - SRP) has called for a blockade of the neo-Nazi march in Ústí nad Labem. News server Romea.cz has been informed that SRP candidates running for the European Parliament are now in Ústí nad Labem. "The Equal Opportunities Party calls on the citizens of the Czech Republic to thoroughly reject such activities and to say a loud NO to such demonstrations sparking anti-Romani and anti-Semitic sentiments among the citizenry. We will be joining the blockade of the neo-Nazis in Ústí nad Labem," said party chair Štefan Tišer in a press release.
A Green Party "happening" is underway in Mánesový sady park. The party has decided to support the nonviolent blockade of the neo-Nazi march. "The Greens call on everyone who can travel to Ústí on 1 May to join the blockade and send the clear signal that they will not put up with the dissemination of racist and xenophobic sentiments in this society. The extremists in many European states may gain strength during the upcoming elections. These are people who do not hesitate to openly support the modern dictators of countries beyond the borders of the EU in their efforts to destroy the project of a united Europe. It is the task of all democratic people to stand up to this threat," said Ondřej Liška, chair of the Greens, in a press release.
Czech Television reports that police have already arrested several people. There are still very few neo-Nazis at the scene. The daily Ústecký deník has reported that four people, apparently opponents of the neo-Nazis, were arrested near Mánesový sady park.
Police spokesperson Jana Matonohová told the Czech News Agency that police officers have confiscated a chain from someone but have not encountered any other weapons yet.
Neo-Nazis are arriving in town in smaller groups. For the time being only dozens have arrived, not the expected hundreds. Roughly 20 radicals arrived by train from Ostrava just after 11:00. Police officers were waiting for them at the train station and asked them to show their identification.
The neo-Nazi march will somewhat disrupt public transit in the town for several hours. The transit authority is running only buses (not trolleybuses) all day and will close some transit stops along the march route as of noon. Transit connections will run on alternate routes.
The daily Ústecký deník reports that police are checking small groups of DSSS supporters. They have confiscated sticks from their flags that could be used as weapons.
Roughly 20 radicals arrived by train from Ostrava just after 11:00. Police officers were waiting for them at the train station and asked for their identification.
The DSSS plans to begin its rally on Mírové náměstí at 14:00, followed by a march through the center of town. Police are warning that they will immediately intervene should the law be broken in any way. "Should anyone commit either a felony or a misdemeanor during these events, especially a racially-motivated one, we will be prepared to immediately and uncompromisingly intervene," police spokesperson Poláčková said.
Several initiatives have convened an assembly against the neo-Nazi march. They are using space in the Mánesový sady park, which is only 200 meters away from the route of the march. For the time being there are about 40 people there. Nonprofit organizations have also reserved the access roads into the largest ghetto in Ústí nad Labem, the Předlice quarter, for their own assemblies. They are planning entertainment and workshops for local residents.
The OSCE monitoring team is already at work in the town. The Czech News Agency reports that its representatives met today with civic initiatives and attended meetings of the security forces. "We spoke with them. They want to monitor the activities of the neo-Nazis and those opposing them," Miroslav Brož of the Konexe association told the Czech News Agency.
The DSSS is heading for Ústí nad Labem with its supporters in specially chartered buses. More radicals, probably including football hooligans from northern Moravia, should be arriving by train. Police are deploying hundreds of riot units, anti-conflict teams and canine units. Šárka Poláčková, spokesperson for the Ústí Regional Police, told the Czech News Agency that they will be reinforced by units from Liberec Region and from Prague. Due to the advertised participation of both anti-fascists and right-wing radicals from Germany, Czech detectives will be collaborating with their colleagues from the German state of Saxony. "During the maneuvers there will be roughly 10 police officers from Dresden present. They will work as observers in particular and will help communicate with German-speaking participants if needed," Poláčková explained.
Extraordinary security measures are underway in town. Police have been checking access roads since the early morning hours and will also be watching the bus and train stations.
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