Romani newcomers to Czech town decide to relocate after altercation and protest - despite police protection
Tensions between a newly-arrived Romani family and other local residents have been dominating the community of Dvorec in the Bruntál district. On Thursday 4 April an altercation is said to have taken place between the newcomers and a non-Romani man who was injured as a consequence.
Despite police having already accused three Romani men of committing an especially serious crime, the girlfriend of the victim organized a demonstration yesterday against the local Romani family whose members were allegedly involved. Police had been guarding the family's home since the incident, where young children were present at the time of the loud protest.
The victim's girlfriend alleges that he was assaulted by 12 Romani men. The Prima TV channel reported that the victim ended up in hospital in Krnov with bruises, a concussion, and an injured ankle.
Police are also issuing information about the attack. "Officers are investigating the violent behavior that happened on 4 April 2019 in the municipality of Dvorec during which one person was injured. The officers have detained three suspects for now and are interrogating all those involved as well as undertaking other procedural steps. Police are doing everything they can in the community to calm the situation and to discover all of the circumstances and facts related to the entire incident," police press spokesperson Pavla Jiroušková said.
Mayor Jan Božovský is also doing his best to calm the situation. "In connection with the press release I would like to assure our citizens that the Police of the Czech Republic are intensively working on this case and as part of the investigation we are closely collaborating with them on clarifying this regrettable incident," the official website of the municipality quotes the mayor as saying.
On Saturday afternoon, however, the entire incident grew into a protest which, according to news server TN.cz, was initiated by the victim's girlfriend. "Tensions at the scene gradually escalated and from a small group of 15 people there were suddenly 150 citizens there," the police press spokesperson told news server Blesk.cz.
The situation later calmed down, but police patrols remained at the scene until the evening. The Romani residents of the home that was surrounded broadcast the entire protest live on the Facebook social networking site for almost two hours.
According to the family members of the accused, police had been guarding their home ever since Thursday's incident, including at night. During their Facebook broadcast, one of the Romani men who had been detained by police for 48 hours described the entire incident much differently than the victim's girlfriend did.
"My son went outside with his children. A white gadjo came outside and began abusing him, calling him a 'gypsy'," he said during the live broadcast.
"Then the gadjo picked up rocks and began throwing them at the car with the kids in it. He was throwing big stones at the car."
"My son told him to stop and asked him why he was doing that, they're neighbors, they should be able to get along. Then my son brought the children back inside the house, and then he went back into the yard."
"The gadjo kept cursing him. He picked up a big block and said 'Come on, come on'."
"My son picked up a tree branch and went after him. My son was in front of his own garden."
"The gadjo wanted to hit my son, but my son avoided the blow and then hit the gadjo on the leg with the tree branch. The gadjo fell onto the retaining wall."
"I walked over to him, I wanted to help him get up, I told my son to forget about it... I couldn't get him to his feet, though, because he's a big guy, more than two meters tall and 140 kilos, probably, I couldn't lift him on my own, so I told my son to help."
"We got him up and told him that we could reach agreement normally, that we're neighbors, that we should be helping each other. He said 'Well, yeah'."
"Then the police came and said that I had beat him up, that my son had beat him up, and that my other son beat him up," the suspect said on Facebook. Martin Miko, chair of the regional branch of the Romani Democratic Party (RDS), has published a video in which the mother of the Romani men involved in the conflict describes the entire incident in a similar vein.
Regional RDS chair: This was not an anti-Romani protest, the long-settled Roma and the majority get along here
Miko does not believe yesterday's protest was against all Romani people. In the video he has published to online social networks, he said the incident was apparently not about racism in the community.
"The majority and the long-settled Romani people like each other here and normally stick together," Miko said in the video. The situation at the scene is not absolutely clear yet and police must investigate further.
According to some, the local long-settled Romani residents were also opposed to the Romani newcomers, who moved into the community about a week ago. "The local Roma were not on their side. The majority did not have the right to go there like that [during the protest], but the local long-settled Roma were standing there with the majority," Miko said, adding that he believes the newcomers have already moved away from the village.
The family has confirmed their relocation to news server Romea.cz. "Yes, we've left, we feared for our children," they said.
"It was a mistake to fight. They were endangering their children by behaving that way," Miko said, also adding that he personally is in a position to aid the family and provide them with an apartment elsewhere.
During Saturday afternoon there were 40 police officers at the scene from the Bruntál District Department of the Police of the Czech Republic and also from the Regional Directorate. A special riot unit was also present.
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