Czech town's EU-funded project won't run in Romani neighborhood
News server Deník.cz reports that the Most town hall has joined a local antigypsyist campaign underway there with a move that has rendered recent construction work unnecessary and increased tensions in a neighborhood where authorities had pledged to improve interpersonal relationships and living conditions. An EU-funded project to eliminate social exclusion is now supporting it, at least in this one case.
According to approved plans, benches were supposed to be installed on newly-constructed meridians in the town's Stovka pedestrian zone. The DEMOS project, which is supposed to improve civil coexistence in the zone with EU aid, has undergone an unexpected change that is causing embarrassment.
Benches will not be installed after all on Budovatelů Avenue. The town hall openly admits that it changed the project because of Romani residents.
The ban on benches, which is part of an obviously antigypsyist campaign, has offended Romani residents, but some people are welcoming it. They and the town hall claim that Romani people behave disruptively.
"This is racism!" said a Romani woman who was sitting in protest at the site where benches were supposed to be available to people of all races. "It's not racism," another Romani woman said, adding with bitter irony, "we're just Indians, after all. We'll sit in a circle here and meditate."
"According to the project, benches were supposed to be there and the project design looked really nice," said Vice-Mayor Hana Jeníčková (SMM), who confirmed that the town hall has granted the wishes of some residents and interfered with the construction work. "They came to us and said for God's sake, don't put benches there, because Romani people will sit on them and shout at everyone."
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