Czech Republic: Neo-Nazis attempt pogrom in Ostrava, 500 Roma march against them
Approximately 200 - 300 neo-Nazis gathered today at 14:00 for an anti-Romani, racist demonstration on Prokešovo Square in Ostrava. Two separate gatherings were convened against racism by the "Let's Block the Marches!" (Blokujeme!) platform, one on nearby Sokolská Street in front of a residential hotel called "Colorful Ostrava" (Barevná Ostrava), and another on Svatopluk Čech Square.
A total of approximately 600 people protested against racism in Ostrava today. News server Romea.cz followed the proceedings online in real time as follows:
17:30 The Roma are calmly dispersing. "There will be five times as many of us next time," our correspondent on the scene in Ostrava quotes the demonstrators as saying. "They dispersed completely calmly in small groups. The atmosphere here was fantastic."
17:20 The Roma are back on Svatopluk Čech Square. "People are making speeches, there is still a large number of Roma here, in my estimation about 600," our correspondent reports.
17:10 The Romani marchers, after a moment of chanting in front of the residential hotel, set off for Svatopluk Čech Square.
16:55 The procession of Roma chanting "Czechs, come with us", "Stop racism", "This is our home", and "We want to live" has arrived at Sokolská Street and the residential hotel. Riot police have blocked their further progress.
16:45 The Roma have joined up with others on Svatopluk Čech Square. Chanting "Black, white, together we fight" (Černí, bílí spojme síly), approximately 500 Romani people have begun marching towards the small groups of neo-Nazis. "The neo-Nazis are completely puzzled, right now I see about 70 of them running away," our correspondent on the scene reports.
16:30 The group of Romani people who assembled in front of the residential hotel on Sokolská Street have begun marching toward Svatopluk Čech Square. "We are walking in a procession under police protection toward the square. We have banners reading 'Stop Pogroms' and 'Hate is No Solution"," our correspondent reports.
15:40 According to information available to news server Romea.cz, police have the situation under control and have ended the neo-Nazis' attempt to assault Romani people on Nádražní Street. "The situation is now unclear because small groups of neo-Nazis are wandering around here looking for a fight," our correspondent in Ostrava reports.
15:30 After being blocked on Sokolská Street, the neo-Nazis have set out for Nádražní Street, where they are doing their best to assault Romani people. News server Deník.cz reports that the neo-Nazis ran after Romani residents and chased them between buildings. "The neo-Nazis have separated into small groups and are doing their best to make it to Svatopluk Čech Square. I don't know what's happening in Nádražní Street, but it's calm here," our correspondent in front of the residential hotel on Sokolská Street reports.
15:10 Police have called on the neo-Nazis to disperse.
14:55 Just after 3 PM, the neo-Nazi demonstration ended and the racists set out on an unannounced march toward the Přívoz quarter. Riot police, helped by police vehicles, barricaded Sokolská Street to prevent the racists from attacking the peaceful assembly in front of the residential hotel.
14:30 About 50 opponents of racism are standing in front of the residential hotel on Sokolská Street in Ostrava. "The Roma living in this residential hotel have been forbidden from joining our assembly against neo-Nazis," our correspondent reports. The owner of the facility has had the glass in the entrance doors to the building covered with newspaper so journalists cannot see inside. According to our correspondent, a helicopter is flying over the town and there is a large number of police officers on hand. The Roma properly announced their assembly on Sokolská Street, while the racists did not.
14:00 An assembly against racism in the Přívoz neighborhood of Ostrava, which is predominantly inhabited by Romani people, is underway. The event began with a religious blessing followed by a cultural program. Organizers have also planned to hold a mass in one of the churches in the quarter.
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