Czech Republic: Romani boy assaulted on bus by ticket-checker gives interview to Romea.cz
Reporters for news server Romea.cz have interviewed the boy whom a ticket-checker working for public transit used force against last week when she attempted to remove him from the morning commute to school, and we have interviewed his mother and another youth who filmed the incident on his mobile phone. The boy alleges that when he got onto the bus with his friends he could already hear the ticket-checker shouting at other children on the bus.
Allegedly the ticket-checker continued to yell at the boy even after he removed his backpack. "If she had spoken to everybody politely, if she had come to me and said 'Please, can you take your backpack off?', then I would have understood and politely taken it off," the boy told news server Romea.cz
"Instead, she came over and began shouting at me that I had to either take the backpack off or get off the bus," the boy told news server Romea.cz, adding that when he and his friends eventually got off the bus, they had to wait for the next one and arrived late to school. The behavior of the ticket-checker as described by the boy was confirmed by the testimony of others who were present.
The passenger who filmed the interaction has also spoken with news server Romea.cz. "She said 'Take off your backpacks' and began shouting at us," he said.
"I asked her why I should take mine off if everybody else on the bus was wearing them and they were not blocking anybody because the bus was not that full. She argued with me and began to threaten to throw me off the bus," the youth said.
"I asked her why I should get off if I have a valid pass and there is no reason for me to leave. Then I took it [the backpack] off," the youth said when asked to describe what preceded the conflict that he subsequently filmed using his mobile phone.
"Eventually the boy [who was assaulted] got out and we didn't want to leave him alone, so we all got off," the youth who filmed the interaction said. "A little girl (I don't know how old she was, but she may have a disability of some kind) began to shout also - it can be heard very clearly on the video - that she was afraid, and she began to cry."
"I heard from others later that she then fainted," the youth told Romea.cz. He was also given pause by the fact that the local police officer present took more interest in him filming the interaction than in attempting to somehow calm the situation.
"The cop stood right next to that little girl, she was shouting so the whole bus could hear, saying she was afraid, and he did nothing, he just stood there and was concerned that I was filming," he said. The mother of the boy whom the ticket-checker attempted to physically force off of the bus has also spoken to Romea.cz.
"As a mother, my perception is that this was very wrong. [...] Even if my son said something vulgar, that is still no reason for an adult woman to assault him," she told Romea.cz, addressing allegations made by the transit authority in their press release on the issue.
"The police officer did not stand up for that little girl or for my son," the victim's mother told Romea.cz. She also said her son has received racist abuse and threats in discussions on the Facebook social networking site about the incident.
News server Romea.cz has asked the press spokesperson for the local transit authority, Jana Dvořáková, for an interview about the incident as well. The transit authority says it does not want to issue a statement beyond their official press release of last Friday because the police investigation is ongoing.
News server Romea.cz also sent a request for a statement to the Municipal Police of Ústí nad Labem and to the regional division of the Police of the Czech Republic. Nobody from the police has responded to our questions yet.
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