Czech Republic: Roma in Ostrava demonstrate against racism, neo-Nazis try to provoke them
At 14:00 on 6 December a demonstration against racism took plcea in Ostrava which was convened by several Romani residents with the assistance of the Konexe organization. Participants gathered on Svatopluk Čech Square in the Přívoz quarter and then followed their announced march route to Prokešovo Square and back.
At that square between 20 and 40 neo-Nazis had gathered at 13:30 and then set out in the direction of the anti-racist event. Police stopped them and the racists then dispersed around town in small groups that did their best to provoke the Romani procession.
After the demonstration was over, a gathering was held at the Přemysl Pittr Primary School, where participants debated how to create Romani representation in Ostrava to negotiate with City Hall and the municipal departments. News server Romea.cz followed the demonstration in real time.
17:00At the meeting at the primary school about 45 Romani people are discussing how to create Romani representation in Ostrava to negotiate with City Hall and the municipal departments. We are ending today's on-line coverage and we thank you for your attention.
16:24The anti-racist demonstration is over. Some participants are asking police officers to accompany them to the tram stop. People are afraid of the small groups of neo-Nazis that have dispersed throughout the neighborhood. Roughly 30 people are heading for the primary school where a conference on the topic of racism will take place.
16:01According to our correspondent, demonstrators have been singing the Czech and Romani national anthems on the way back to their starting point and are slowly drawing closer to it. No other incidents with the racists have occurred.
15:46The procession is heading toward the primary school where a conference will be held that the conveners have called a "Romani Congress". Participants intend to discuss the rising danger of racism there. According to information received to date they also intend to elect representatives to negotiate on their behalf with the Ostrava City Hall and with municipal department councils.
15:40The anti-racist march ultimately reached the local town hall on Prokešovo Square. About 15 neo-Nazis attempted to provoke the activists and Romani residents, but they responded with anti-racist slogans.
15:30About 20 neo-Nazis ran out of a local bar and began to shout vulgar curses at the Romani marchers. Police kept the two groups apart.
15:19The march has stopped on Sokolská Street and participants are deciding whether to keep marching or to head straight for the primary school where the so-called "Romani Congress" will take place. The march is planned and announced to travel to Prokešovo Square, where the neo-Nazis had gathered at 13:30 but, according to the available information, are no longer there.
15:10Our correspondent reports that other Romani residents are joining the march en route, so now roughly 70 Romani people are marching through Ostrava. Along they way they were provoked by a group of four or five neo-Nazis, but police kept both sides separate. Activists and Romani residents are chanting slogans like "Black, White, Forces Unite", "Czechs Come With Us", "Stop Racism", etc.
14:56Participants in the anti-racist event are setting off on their announced march.
14:47De la Negra, a rap group from the town of Krupka, are singing to the participants in the anti-racist demonstration.
14:46The anti-racist demonstration is beginning to disperse. The parents of some Romani youth have come to pick up their children in cars, while other demonstrators are leaving on their own.
14:40Deputy Mayor of Ostrava Zbyněk Pražák is addressing the anti-racist demonstration.
14:38A group of neo-Nazis heading in the direction of the Romani demonstration was stopped by police. The estimated number of the small group ranges from 20 to 40 participants. The neo-Nazis, according to several unverified reports, are said to have continued on as several smaller groups.
14:37According to our correspondent there are 40 Romani people present at the anti-racist event. Roughly 40 more are standing on the outskirts of the square.
14:32Speakers are taking turns at the microphone. Parson Mikuláš Vymětal reminded those present of the significance of two figures, Martin Luther King and Přemysl Pitter (at a local church school named after him there will be a so-called "Romani Congress" once the demonstration is over). Local Romani organizer Imrich Horvát told the crowd that Romani people very often prefer not to leave their homes out of fear of assault, especially when there are football matches in Ostrava, because those fans include many neo-Nazis and violent thugs. Romani activist Ivanka Čonková criticized discrimination against Romani children in the schools.
14:15According to information from the scene there are around 40 people at the neo-Nazi counter-action.
14:10According to Imrich Horvát, the organizer of today's event, the low number of participants doesn't necessarily mean anything: "It's too early to draw conclusions, more people are still joining us, a group just arrived from Olomouc. It always takes people a longer time to meet up. What's more, the weather is no good." Horvát estimates that right now there are about 80 people at the site of the event.
14:00For the time being around 40 people including activists and journalists not local to Ostrava have gathered on Svatopluk Čech Square.
13:40There are no indications that anything is going on in Ostrava. "There are only a couple of journalists on Svatopluk Čech Square, about 10 Romani people walked through here and are already gone. There's also no one at the site where the neo-Nazis are supposed to gather," reports our correspondent on the scene in Ostrava.
9:45Organizers of the demonstration against racism have canceled a press conference that was scheduled for 10 AM. No journalists were interested.
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