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Objects fly over Czech Police line as Roma insist on their right to honor dead man

28.10.2016 11:12
On Thursday, 27 October 2016 in the Czech town of Žatec approximately 500 people gathered to honor the memory of the Romani man who died there on 18 October after a conflict in a local pizzeria. (PHOTO: Romea.cz)
On Thursday, 27 October 2016 in the Czech town of Žatec approximately 500 people gathered to honor the memory of the Romani man who died there on 18 October after a conflict in a local pizzeria. (PHOTO: Romea.cz)

After yesterday's assembly in the Czech town of Žatec to honor the death of a Romani man there last week was officially dispersed, organizer Jan Čonka called on all of the Romani people present to peacefully return to their homes. Roughly half of the 500 participants, however, walked to the Panamera Pizzeria to lay flowers and light candles at the improvised memorial to the deceased that has been there since the incident.

Roughly 100 right-wing extremists were waiting for the Romani mourners in front of the pizzeria, some of whom are members of the militant neo-Nazi movement "Odin's Soldiers". After the Romani mourners arrived on the small square in front of the business, they came in close proximity to the neo-Nazis.

At that moment, only a couple of police officers from the anti-conflict team were at the scene. Five minutes later, the space between the right-wing extremists and the Romani mourners was blocked by roughly 100 riot police, who at first would not allow the Romani people to light candles in front of the photograph of the deceased out of concern that they might physically clash with the right-wing radicals.

That upset some Romani mourners, who vulgarly cursed the riot police for intentionally preventing them from honoring the memory of their murdered friend. One Romani mourner pulled out his identification card to show the police that he, too, is a Czech citizen.

Meanwhile, the right-wing extremists standing behind the riot police were shouting racist insults at the Romani people such as  "Monkeys!", "Black mugs!", and slogans such as "Gypsies get to work!", "This is our home!", "Go home!" and "Bohemia for the Czechs!" Some of the Romani people present returned the racist insults and made vulgar gestures.

Other Romani people present challenged the right-wing extremists to fight by shouting "Motherf*****s, you don't even know what Fascism is, bring it on!" and yelling "Fascists!" and "Racists!" at the right-wing radicals. Some Romani people also threw eggs or plastic bottles full of water at the right-wing radicals.

From behind the riot police lines the right-wing radicals threw empty beer cans at the Roma. Čonka did his best to calm the situation and repeatedly called on the Romani people to lay their flowers and light their candles at a nearby fountain instead of at the existing memorial at the pizzeria itself.

Most of the Romani people present disagreed with his compromise. The situation did not calm down until riot police allowed a Romani man to light candles at the improvised remembrance site in front of the pizzeria.

The man lit his candle with the words "Romale, have no fear!" and was followed by others who did the same. The lighting of the candles took place under the drawn weapons of the riot units, who subsequently gradually pushed the Romani mourners back to several meters beyond from the nearby fountain.

After some Romani people laid their flowers at the site, most left peacefully and the situation calmed down significantly. A radical core of Romani people, however, remained at the scene and continued to exchange racist insults with the non-Romani radicals on the other side of the police line.

As some Romani people drove down the street where the pizzeria is located, verbal abuse was directed at them again. The right-wing radicals shouted "Black mugs!" at the Romani vehicles, spit at them, and made vulgar gestures.

The Romani people in the cars ironically shouted that they had bought their cars with welfare money. One right-wing extremist was then arrested by riot police after throwing a beer can at a Romani vehicle and was checked for other weapons.

After 17:00 both groups began to gradually disperse. No other physical or verbal incidents have yet been reported from Žatec.

More than 1 000 Romani people in the streets nationwide, Czech Romani emigrants gather in England 

On Tuesday more than 100 Romani people assembled in Brno to mourn the young man's death, while yesterday, in addition to Romani gatherings in Jihlava, Ostrava, Prague and Žatec, other events took place in Plzeň and Trutnov. News server Romea.cz has also been informed that Romani people held gatherings yesterday in Gloucester and in Newcastle, England to mourn the deceased.  

Vít Hassan, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Demonstrace, Smrt Roma v Žatci, Extremism, Odin's Soldiers



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