Czech Republic: 70 ultra-rightists march on Romani neighborhood
About 70 protesters marched yesterday afternoon in Ústí nad Labem around residential hotels predominantly inhabited by Romani people. The protest gathering took place without any larger conflicts occurring and ended in shouting matches between small groups of those supporting the right-wing extremist Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) and counter-demonstrators supporting the Romani tenants. Police riot units kept the groups apart.
The march was led by DSSS members carrying banners and flags. Milan Sůra, the party's candidate in the upcoming regional elections, convened the protest assembly. "We first met in Ústí almost exactly a year ago. At that time I told you we would be coming together again if nothing changed," Sůra told the protesters.
Last year's march from the center of town was attended by approximately 400 people. Yesterday's assembly ended once more with a promise that the protesters would meet again in Ústí should the situation remain unresolved.
The Romani tenants were supported by activists from the Hate is No Solution and Konexe initiatives. They reported that an extraordinary regime had been declared at the residential hotels during the protest, with tenants forbidden to open their windows or step outside the building for any reason.
"We are of the opinion that the tactic of barricading the tenants into the residential hotels and pretending that no one is there at all is a very poor one. The neo-Nazis are being given the space to make their anti-Romani hate speeches directly in front of these places to hector the people living there. This will have the greatest psychological impact on the children living there," said Miroslav Brož, the spokesperson for the counter-protesting initiatives.
The Ústí Region experienced anti-Romani unrest to a much greater extent last summer, when hundreds of people including right-wing extremists marched on Romani dwellings in several towns in the Šluknov foothills. This spring only about 100 people attended a similar assembly convened there.
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