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June 18, 2019
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Czech town sees street fight, mayor writes about the "gypsy nuisance" - then ignores other violence involving non-Romani people

11.6.2019 9:09
Czech President Miloš Zeman speaking on 25 September 2018 in Kojetín, Czech Republic. It was on this occasion that he suggested Romani people
Czech President Miloš Zeman speaking on 25 September 2018 in Kojetín, Czech Republic. It was on this occasion that he suggested Romani people "don't want to work", after which Romani people from around Europe rebuked him by sending him photographs of themselves in their workplaces through social media. (PHOTO: Seznam Zprávy)

On the evening of Friday, 7 June a mass altercation took place in the Czech town of Kojetín between two groups of people. Mayor Leoš Ptáček announced that local Romani residents were involved.

Two people were injured, an automobile was damaged, and a gas pistol was fired. Police are investigating the case as felony disorderly conduct, property damage and attempted grievous bodily harm involving negligence.

Several hours later, two more conflicts happened in the town that did not involve Romani people. The mayor did not issue any statements about those.

In his statement about the Romani-involved conflict, the mayor speaks in racist terms. Miluše Zajícová, spokesperson for the Olomouc Regional Police Directorate, described that conflict as follows: "According to the information obtained so far, a group of five men first damaged a Škoda Octavia vehicle with the aid of metal bars, axes and a collapsible truncheon by breaking the windows, dislocating the side mirrors, denting the doors and breaking the headlights and taillights."

The attackers then allegedly assaulted a 30-year-old man, first striking him at least twice in the head with a metal bar and then firing the gas pistol at him at close range. "Another man age 28 also suffered injuries. The aggressive group verbally insulted and threatened the inhabitants of a house," the police spokesperson said.

That good old "gypsy nuisance"

The mayor wrote up a statement about the incident and gave it to the Facebook group Kojetínské novoty ("Kojetín Novelties") for publication. The statement generally discusses local Romani residents in absolutely insulting, racist terms, for example, as an "exhibit from the vervet monkey pavilion" or as the "gypsy nuisance".

Later that same evening two more street brawls happened in Kojetín without any Romani people being involved, but the mayor did not make statements about either of them. "On behalf of the town leadership I would first like assure you and to declare, on my honor, that this rather noisy and weird time we have been having between the lighting of the Christmas tree and the celebrating of festivals has not been because the town of Kojetín has established a partnership with the Lešná Zoo, and there has not been an exceptional exhibit from the vervet pavilion in town, as the many eyewitnesses to events on our square might have believed," the mayor wrote.

"Rather, this has been about the good old issue called the gypsy nuisance. Several dozen individuals from this ethnic group that is so cared for and pampered have now added to the common elements of their repertoire - their reduced intelligence, their laziness, and their total lack of willingness to join the society of decent people - a rather significant degree of aggression," the mayor wrote, adding that such aggression is also "common".

The mayor also criticized the approach taken by police to the incident. "This is first and foremost because we are making fools of ourselves and are not managing to harshly punish their disgusting behavior," he wrote.

"To be brief, they are just taking advantage. This is happening to such a degree that here in Kojetín we absolutely hate the gypsies," the mayor stated.

"Naturally, those who are making an effort to behave decently are then tarred with the same brush, and that is absolutely wrong. All this is the failure of the system, not of the cop who let the fully armed gypsies escape the scene of the crime!" the mayor wrote, adding elsewhere that the officer most likely did not act because he feared for his own life.

Equal emphasis?

Police in Kojetín were called to another conflict near the post office just after midnight, as Zajícová confirmed to news server Romea.cz and as was also described in a post to Kojetínské novoty. According to that description, about 20 people beat each other up near the post office, one of whom also assaulted a police officer.

"The people who live above the post office called out of their windows to the cops: 'Do something about this, it's impossible to sleep here'," wrote Peter Dujava. "When state police officers managed to separate the brawling individuals, one of them assaulted a cop and asked 'How come you're parking your car in the crosswalk?' "

"The people watching from their windows shouted to the cop: 'Are you going to take that?' and 'Why don't you incinerate the young dunce?'" Dujava described. The post concludes with this description of those involved: "They were not Romani people."

Other posts discussing the midnight incident also mention the lack of Romani involvement, such as this one by Gabriela Hřeblová:  "I hope the town leadership is also aware that the other two altercations happening that night (the street fight near the post office plus an assault on the local police, and the street fight in which somebody was lacerated with a broken bottle near Košík) involved the sons of the holy white ethnic group. Perhaps the same emphasis will be placed on dealing with events such as those."

"This is really not normal," Hřeblová opined. A meeting was scheduled to take place about the conflict involving the Romani residents yesterday with experts on Romani issues from the Olomouc Regional Authority and the leadership of the Police of the Czech Republic.

bau, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Kojetín, Napadení, Policie, Racism



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