Czech Republic: 50 anti-minority racists march in Plzeň, 60 Roma stand up to them
Several dozen racists protesting against minorities and multicultural society marched through the Bory neighborhood of Plzeň on the afternoon of 28 October. The march, which was called a "Protest against violating the rights of decent citizens of the Czech Republic and privileging one group", was originally predicted to be attended by as many as 300 people, but in the end only about 50 turned up.
The procession was accompanied by police who kept the racists away from their opponents, who had gathered several hundred meters away from the starting point of the march. Police ended the event after about an hour of marching through some of the neighborhood.
The right-wing radicals returned back to the bus station where they had begun, accompanied by police. The event took place without any larger conflicts.
A numerically much larger group of police officers supervised the whole event, which had been announced as lasting from 14:00 until 17:00. "The neo-Nazis marched along their planned route and then headed back to the bus station. No violence has occurred so far. The neo-Nazis are dissatisfied that so few of them met up here," a correspondent at the scene for news server Romea.cz reported just before 15:30.
Police were prepared for the event - in addition to Aliens' Police and traffic police, there were an anti-conflict team, canine units, detectives and riot units readied, while a helicopter monitored the situation from above and a special police monitoring vehicle did the same on the streets.
The event began after 14:00 with organizers giving speeches against Romani people and other minorities. "We are called Czechs, Czechia, Czech Republic, why should we take any minorities into consideration here?" organizer Ladislav Vladař asked rhetorically.
Vladař later told journalists he is demanding legislative changes which, in his view, only an ultra-right party will be able to enforce in parliament. After the brief speeches, a parade featuring banners, flags and nationalistic singing set out through the streets.
After proceeding several hundred meters, the marchers were met in a small park by an active group of approximately 60 Romani people who shouted and whistled at them. Police did not permit the two groups to interact further.
"On the basis of my experience with previous such marches, I am of the opinion that this one has no other aim than to express hatred of differences and to dangerously, stupidly create divisions between citizens and in society. I regret that this is taking place on a day when we celebrate living together with good neighbors. I fundamentally disagree with this march and the tack it is taking," Mayor of Plzeň Martin Baxa (Civic Democrats - ODS) wrote on the town's official website.
The town was holding official celebrations of the 95th anniversary of the founding of independent Czechoslovakia today. Entrance fees to memorials and tourist attractions were either free of charge or greatly reduced and a parade of lights was scheduled for the evening, along with fireworks on the square.
The most recent right-wing extremist march took place in Plzeň in August. The anti-Romani event was attended by approximately 150 right-wing radicals and their supporters.
As many as 250 people counter-protested the demonstration along its march route. Police prevented confrontations and kept the two groups away from one another, arresting almost three dozen people, most of them anti-racist counter-demonstrators who prevented the neo-Nazi march from proceeding.
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