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Czech Republic: Police arrest 22 after clash with ultra-right extremists in Duchcov

Duchcov, 25.6.2013 2:54, (ROMEA)
In Duchcov (Teplice district) an anti-Romani march was held on 22 June 2013 by the right-wing extremist Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS). Police had to intervene against aggressive neo-Nazis. (PHOTO:  Romea.cz)
In Duchcov (Teplice district) an anti-Romani march was held on 22 June 2013 by the right-wing extremist Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS). Police had to intervene against aggressive neo-Nazis. (PHOTO: Romea.cz)

In the town of Duchcov (Teplice district) a rally by the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) this past weekend deteriorated into street clashes with police officers. Aggressive neo-Nazis assaulted police and threw bottles and rocks. Police used firecrackers, tear gas and water cannon.

Police report that five people were injured, two of them police officers. One member of a riot unit was downed and had to be helped to safety by his colleagues. The injured included a photographer who suffered lacerations to his head. Police spokesperson Šárka Poláčková says 22 people were arrested.

News server Romea.cz followed the situation in Duchcov all day in real time and reported on it online. For a transcript of that coverage, please see http://www.romea.cz/en/news/czech/czech-republic-injuries-after-dsss-provokes-street-warfare-in-duchcov-police-use-tear-gas-and-water-cannon.

About 1 000 promoters of the party and residents of Duchcov came to the DSSS rally. Roughly 250 Romani people and their backers gathered at a separate event nearby.

The DSSS assembly started at about 15:15 with a speech by party chair Tomáš Vandas in front of the ruined building of the old train station, which they decorated with flags and signs. Vandas compared the situation in Duchcov to the situation in the Šluknov foothills not quite two years ago, when thousands of people demonstrated in the streets and police in riot gear had to intervene using mounted officers and water cannon.

A similar intervention was necessary in Duchcov on 22 June. Just before 16:00, the right-wing radicals set off on their planned march through the town. Right at the start, some of them tried to break through the police cordon in order to reach the Romani gathering. Police, however, kept the two groups apart. The marchers then deviated from their planned route and started throwing bottles and rocks at the officers, who then intervened against them. 

During the first wave of violence, the neo-Nazis intentionally assaulted a photojournalist from the weekly Reflex, Stanislav Krupař. "One extremist wearing a balaclava intentionally attacked me from a distance of about four meters. He threw a glass Coca-Cola bottle at me and hit me in the head. I immediately collapsed to the ground. I bled a lot, my eyebrows are all sliced up. A woman gave me first aid at the scene and then at the surgery department in Duchcov they gave me three stitches. We have to wait until tomorrow to see if I got a concussion," Krupař was quoted as saying by news server Reflex.cz.

The photojournalist went on to say that the right-wing extremists intentionally had empty bottles in their pockets and that he believed police had underestimated the extremists' equipment and preparations. Reflex magazine has also published a request for help in finding the man responsible, including a photo of him in his balaclava, on its website.

After the first police intervention on 22 June, people ran into the park and no longer continued along the announced march route. Police officers used tear gas and water cannon against those who threw rocks and trash at them.

A smaller part of the mob eventually returned to the square near the place where the Roma were gathering, chanting "Let us through to them!" After that, they set off on another march through the town and clashed with officers again.

At around 18:00 people started to disperse. Police accompanied some of them back to the train station.

The movements of people through the town had been followed since before noon by police patrols on almost every corner, including an anti-conflict team. Officers searched the vehicles of those driving into the town and confiscated 38 weapons, including bars, baseball bats, knives and various tools. According to the Law on Assembly, participants in public gatherings are not permitted to carry explosives, weapons, or objects that could be used to harm someone's health or threaten them with violence.

In the evening, police clarified the injuries suffered by various participants at the event. "During the security measures, two police officers and three civilians were injured. Both of the injured riot unit officers were struck by flying rocks (one in the ribs and one in the hand). One civilian was injured by a cherry bomb that was thrown, another was injured by a rock, a journalist suffered lacerations to his head," police spokesperson Jana Matonohová said.

A total of 22 people were arrested, seven for misdemeanor offenses and most of the rest for failing to obey a police officer or for misdemeanors against civil coexistence. "Three people were arrested on suspicion of the felony crime of assaulting a public official and rioting," Matonohová said. "During Saturday, police officers confiscated a total of 35 objects that could have been used as weapons. Among them were baseball bats, hammers, knives and truncheons."

"We have information that promoters of both left and right-wing movements are heading to the town," police spokesperson Poláčková had told journalists prior to the demonstration. The flag of the left-wing Antifascist Action movement, whose promoters have clashed with DSSS promoters at similar events several times in the past, was hanging at a podium erected at the street intersection where a group of Romani assailants had assaulted a non-Romani married couple in May. The Konexe association held its assembly seeking better relations between neighbors at the site of that incident. Local bands and songwriters performed there.

That assault on the non-Romani couple had already caused the atmosphere in Duchcov to escalate into protests by several hundred people attending a public assembly on the main square at the end of May, after which about 300 demonstrators had headed for the streets where Romani people live. Security in the town was overseen by more than 600 police officers in May, roughly 400 of them riot police. Others were detectives, officers from district police departments, and traffic police. The officers were not just from the Ústí Region, but included reinforcements from other regions. The police later said their anti-conflict team had also played an important role. A police helicopter had also monitored the entire afternoon from above.

Police spokesperson Matonohová said there were no further problems on the night of 22 June or early Sunday morning after these latest clashes. Municipal police did not report any other incidents linked to the right-wing radicals' presence.

"Police went out only twice to answer complaints that nighttime quiet had been disturbed, but that's standard," Mayor of Duchcov Jitka Bártová said. The right-wing extremists evidently did not cause any larger damage in the town. 

"All I know for now is that a police vehicle was damaged when it was struck by rocks," Bártová said. In her view, most of the mess that remained after Saturday's protests has already been cleared away. "In some places all that's left is some broken glass," she said.


ČTK, Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Demonstrace, DSSS, Extremism, Násilí, Racism, Roma, úklid



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