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Czech TV journalist of Romani origin: I was threatened during Saturday's demonstration

Prague, 28.8.2013 17:41, (ROMEA)
Richard Samko (PHOTO: Petr Neubert)
Richard Samko (PHOTO: Petr Neubert)

On Saturday, 24 August, I had to once again set out to cover one of the dozens of demonstrations that have been organized by the DSSS in this country. From past experience, I knew what to expect.

I knew I would hear condemnatory, disapproving reactions about Czech Television and journalists in general, and I also knew that street fighters would be there. Those are people who need to take their adrenalin out on others, to ease their heartburn by beating up a stranger whom they know as the enemy.

Thanks to the police, these people have never succeeded at any of the demonstrations I have covered. However, what I did not expect, and what really got to me on Saturday, was the hateful reaction to me from people who are not neo-Nazis, to say nothing of radicals. 

In the past I have experienced several of these individuals, these "ordinary" people, who have participated in these demonstrations. Last Saturday in Duchcov it seemed to me that there were more of them on hand than there were neo-Nazis or radicals. 

I will describe some of the conversations that took place at the scene. We asked the police officers to let us through with our cameraman and two-member security team to the place where Romani people were gathering, and as we passed under the police tape, someone called out from the crowd:

"Ordinary" demonstrator:  Why are you letting him in there?

Richard Samko:  I know people there.

"Ordinary" demonstrator:  Aha, you're black so you get to go there, is that it?

After 20 minutes we returned from the Roma event and went back to the square. The demonstration was over, but the mob had decided to revisit the places where Romani people live, and the man who had called me "black" before immediately addressed me again. 

"Ordinary" demonstrator: So, how are your family and friends? Are they still alive?

Richard Samko: Yes, and they will stay that way! (sharply)

"Ordinary" demonstrator: Not once we reopen Terezín! (sharply)

Richard Samko: Excuse me?

"Ordinary" demonstrator: That's just around the corner.

Richard Samko: ….  [I was completely stupefied]

Five minutes later, the mob set out on its march once again. I headed for a bunch of men that included the one who had spoken of reopening Terezín, but a colleague of his started talking to me instead.

Richard Samko: Why do you want to get to the Romani people? What do you intend to do to them? (Asked formally and therefore politely)

Demonstrator #2: You'll see! (Answered informally, and therefore impolitely)

Richard Samko: You just want to beat them up for no reason? What would you say if I told you I had also once been beaten up by skinheads for no reason?

Demonstrator #2: Well if there weren't so many police officers here I'd beat you up myself.

Richard Samko: Why? I haven't done anything to you.

Demonstrator #2: I dunno. I don't like it that you're looking at me up close like this, I hate it.

Richard Samko: But I haven't done anything.

Demonstrator #2: Get out of here or you'll really get it from me.

At that point the mob, including us, was approaching the cordon of riot police. That warning was evidently given to me because the police officers were standing there to hear it.

The man, who was about 40, looked at first glance to be a very mellow, solid person. What he had said to me was unbelievable.

I never did learn why he hates Roma so much in general and me in particular. It was the first time he had ever seen me and he had judged me within one minute.

I then experienced an even more brusque conversation with a person who most probably was a neo-Nazi. As I was making a phone call with a colleague from Czech Television about the footage and the shots, this person walked past me and said "The black swine comes out again."  

I was not surprised to hear him say this. I asked him what he thought he was doing.

He continued his verbal assault: “If you weren't holding that microphone [the Czech Television microphone] I'd knock you down." To that, I did not respond.

I didn't want to provoke a conflict. In such cases my motto is that there is no point in arguing with a knucklehead like that or explaining anything to him.

If you've read this far, I would really be interested to know how many of you have already told yourselves that I must have made this up, that I couldn't have remembered it all so perfectly. Unfortunately, it's the truth.

It's still in my head and will be there for a long time. I even re-hear it every time I remember it.

We managed to record some of these brusque reactions on camera. Everything was also heard by the two members of the security team, and mainly by my cameraman, who was also aghast at what he was hearing and at the hatred he was seeing in the eyes of "ordinary" people.

I was sick over everything I experienced in Duchcov. I get all the arguments made by those who have directly experienced some actual problem with a Romani person that has been hard to resolve, but I don't understand these weaker individuals who have never experienced any direct problem with a Romani person and who simply need to find a scapegoat for all their other problems, those just condemn all Roma on principle. 

For the time being, I am not afraid of the future. There are people living around me who are my friends, GADJE [non-Roma] who respect me as a person, as Richard Samko.

I am very grateful to all of them for that. YOU TOO should try wanting to get to know us.

Thanks,

Richard Samko 

Richard Samko, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 8099x

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Anticiganismus, Demonstrace, Extremism, protiromský pochod, Racism, Richard Samko, Romové, Romská reprezentace, situace ve společnosti, skinheads, společenská atmosféra, Šíření nenávisti a nesnášenlivosti, tolerance, výhrůžky, Czech republic, Neo-Nazism, news, Roma, Šikana



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