Czech Republic: Allegations of police brutality against Romani youths at Prague housing estate
Last week a young Romani man posted on the Facebook social networking site complaining of an improper intervention against him and others by police officers in the Černý Most neighborhood of Prague. The police have decided, on the basis of the speculation that has arisen about the case, to investigate the entire situation, including the police intervention.
The young man's post described the officers intervening against a group of young Romani men and women for no reason. The police have a different perspective on the entire situation.
"Yesterday, 22 October 2016 in Prague at Černý Most my friends and I were celebrating a birthday. We were done celebrating before 22:00, so we were not disrupting nighttime quiet," the participant in the incident posted to Facebook, alleging that police officers used racist slurs and brutal violence against the group.
The post goes on to describe injuries that the officers allegedly caused to members of the group. The young man also described other details of the incident to news server Romea.cz.
"They wanted to see my older sister's identification, but she didn't have it on her. She left it at home because she already lost her documents once at an evening party," one of the youths who was detained by police told news server Romea.cz.
"My sister objected to that, she didn't like the police raising their voices at her for no reason. At that moment they pacified her, they forced her arms behind her and pushed upward until they began to break. She had an hysterical fit, so the officers said they were turning her over to me and told me to hold onto her, so I did, but after a moment she fled into the crowd where my other friends were being detained by other officers. I immediately ran after her and grabbed her, but at that moment the officers threw me to the ground, where one held onto my head while the other stomped on my knee and broke my knee-cap. I'm missing work because of it," the young Romani man told news server Romea.cz.
The youth said more police patrols drove up to the scene and took the entire group to the police station. He said another young man vulgarly abused the officers as he was being taken to a cell, yelling that they had assaulted the other man's sister for no reason and that he would be addressing the situation.
The officers are then said to have beaten the man who was yelling. "I heard from the cell next to mine that the officers were verbally insulting him," the young Romani man described to news server Romea.cz.
One youth subsequently collapsed, but the emergency medical workers called to the scene reportedly refused to believe the Romani youths when they said the police were responsible for their injuries. The police version of events is different and they reject the allegations that they used disproportionate force.
A patrol from the local department in Kyje says they received a call to the 158 emergency number reporting a disturbance on Bryksova Street at the Černý Most housing estate. Around 10 young Romani men were described as disturbing nighttime quiet there by smashing bottles and bothering passers-by.
"As part of the intervention, the group of hoodlums was asked to show their identity cards. Most of them, however, refused to do so and began to verbally assault the police patrol. The entire situation began to escalate and the officers were at risk of immediate attack. Given the circumstances, reinforcements arrived at the scene in the form of several other police patrols. The officers pacified the most active participants in the scuffle through the use of force. A total of 11 persons ultimately ended up at the police station, four of them voluntarily. During the intervention a total of two persons were injured. A 23-year-old man caused himself injury during his efforts to thwart the officers' intervention and refused to be treated by emergency medical personnel. A 22-year-old man complained of knee pain after being transferred to the police station and did not refuse medical aid. Emergency medical technicians transported him to the hospital for treatment," writes Andrea Zoulová in a press release for the press department of the Police of the Czech Republic.
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