Czech Republic: Local Romani people leave village during demonstration
An anti-crime march took place this afternoon in the village of Dřevnovice in Prostějov district. Tensions between local ethnic Czechs and Romani people have been rising there in recent weeks. Police estimated that approximately 250 people participated in the march. In addition to locals and residents from surrounding villages, about 100 right-wing extremists were involved. Michaela Sedláčková, Police Coordinator for Minorities, told the Czech Press Agency that no disturbance of public order or property damage occurred.
The marchers gathered at about 12:00 and the event began about two hours later at a local playground with several speeches criticizing Romani residents. The march then toured the village and the organizer ended it shortly after 15:00. Sedláčková said all of the Romani people living in the village left town for the day, which evidently contributed to the calm course of the event. Several dozen police officers were deployed to maintain order.
According to Mayor Bohumila Charvátová (independent) it is not certain whether the march will lead to calming the situation in the village. "The inadaptables must realize that shouting 'Dřevnovicé will burn' won't get us anywhere. Violence just leads to more violence. I would be glad if the law were to apply to everyone and if everyone were to start behaving accordingly," Charvátová told the Czech Press Agency.
Tensions between Romani people and ethnic Czechs have reigned not only in Dřevnovice in recent weeks, but also in nearby Dobromilice, where a local militia is even in operation. The leadership of that community has drafted a new ordinance on maintaining public order and plans to install a closed circuit TV system on the streets. Mayor Charvátová has said that no one is planning to establish a militia in her town for the time being, but did say she would be discussing the option of a establishing a local police force for the micro-region and pressuring the state not to reduce the number of state police officers.
Approximately 40 Romani people live in Dřevnovice, including a family with many members who moved into the community several years ago after the Mayor of Vsetín, Jiří Čunek (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL) "deported" them from his town. Locals say the greatest difficulties are with that particular family, who have not yet become a part of the community.
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