Slovakia: Video of police intervention against Roma at gas station goes viral, sparks protests
Slovak media are reporting that late Sunday night and during the early morning hours of Monday an incident transpired between police and a group of local residents in the Šaca neighborhood of Košice who are now accusing the officers of committing brutality and violating their rights. Several families from a local housing estate (non-Roma and Roma) were celebrating the arrival of friends from England at a local gas station when the incident happened.
A patrol officer was apparently bothered by the celebration and decided to break it up, leading to a conflict after which Marián Kuchár was handcuffed and taken away. Those celebrating claim that they had not been disturbing anybody or preventing anybody from doing anything at the gas station.
About 400 people, most of them Romani, protested against the police intervention the following day. The celebrating group admits that they had been consuming alcohol bought at the gas station, but say the police officer had recommended they go to the station because they had allegedly been making too much noise celebrating on the streets of the housing estate.
"He came by to warn us that we were disrupting nighttime quiet. Yes, I respected that, I told him yes, it's 23:00, we'll go over to the gas station. There's an area with chairs there, we'll do our drinking there," Kuchár told news server Noviny.cz.
At 3:30 AM the conflict began. "The police patrol warned those present that they were being noisy and also that consuming alcoholic beverages in publicly accessible places is banned, so they were committing illegal behavior," the Slovak Police said in a press release.
Those celebrating argue that they had been allowed to sit in the outdoor area by employees of the gas station and that one of the police officers is biased against them, which is why he escalated the conflict. The police reject that assertion.
"Those present were apparently under the influence of alcoholic beverages, they behaved aggressively and shouted loudly that they were not doing anything wrong. One officer did his best to calm them and to address the matter in a quiet way," the police statement reads.
Kuchár disagrees with that claim. "He was biased against me. I can't explain it otherwise. My rights have been violated. He shoved my wife, and my sister-in-law was assaulted by the members of the emergency motorized units. There was no reason for it," Kuchár says in a video statement produced about the incident by Ivan Hriczko.
That video also features commentary from the "Romani King", Róbert Botoš, objecting to the police intervention. Over the course of several hours, about 400 people assembled the next day to protest the intervention, peacefully expressing their concerns about police brutality and their fears for their children and their other relatives.
In their statement, police say while the intervention will be investigated by the officers' superiors, they believe it was proportionate. "The PZ officers' on-duty intervention and the secured camera recordings from the scene of the event will be subject to investigation by the supervisor who, according to the current findings, has evaluated the PZ officers' service activities and the actual intervention as adequate and lawful," the police said.
- Slovak President: The Holocaust of the Roma cannot be forgotten, especially when hatred is becoming a political tool once more
- Infamous housing estate in Slovakia is finally turning around - continued
- Educator Martin Kaleja: From the Romani settlements in Slovakia to the Czech academic world
- Infamous housing estate in Slovakia is finally turning around
- Slovakia: Romani girl from settlement now champion runner in her region
- Slovak homeowner considers selling to Roma, so his neighbors graffiti his house and puncture his tires
- Slovakia: Dozens of children from orphanage ending up in psychiatric care - is it a business?
- Slovak Plenipotentiary for Romani Communities: We will focus on education and employment
- Czech film festival visited by seven Romani children from Slovak settlements to promote "Silent Days"
- Slovak Police arrest Czech citizen and two Slovak citizens on suspicion of extremism
- Slovak court grants early release to vigilante who murdered three Roma at their home, prosecutor complains
- Slovak President-elect creates minority adviser team, Roma represented by Jurina Rusnáková and Viktor Teru
- Slovak church bungles inclusion of Romani newcomer into First Communion ceremony, charges of racial discrimination being investigated
- Winner of Czech-Slovak singing competition "The Voice" subjected to racist attacks online
- EP elections: Four Romani candidates in Czech Republic, more than 20 in Slovakia
- Stano Daniel: Czecho-Slovak perspectives on elections to the European Parliament
- Czech capital to see demonstration in support of Romani refugees from Ukraine calling for dignified conditions
- Tent city in Czech capital has not solved the situation of the Romani refugees from Ukraine, hundreds at main station, few with Hungarian passports
- Czech Health Minister: Room for Romani refugees from Ukraine has to be found outside of Prague
- Czech university distances itself from e-mail alleging increased security needed for dorm because of refugees from Ukraine
- Czech Caritas branch objects to Romani political party's critique of aid to Romani refugees from Ukraine, party stands by its allegations
- Jarmila Balážová: Condemnation of refugee Romani children and their mothers from Ukraine is unfair when their brothers, fathers and sons are fighting back at home!
- Prague Mayor tells Czech Govt that if refugees are not redistributed elsewhere in the country by Tuesday, he will close the assistance center
- VIDEO: Tents for Romani refugees from Ukraine were erected in the Czech capital in the Troja neighborhood
- Mayor of Prague says if the Czech state does not systematize the distribution of refugees it will close its aid center, tent city supposedly being built
- Commentary: Arrogant behavior of Czech Railways staff toward Romani refugees from Ukraine and absurd police proposals
- Romani nonprofits and civil society members of the Czech Govt Council on Roma Minority Affairs call on PM to hold a crisis meeting with them about aid to Romani Ukrainian refugees
- Czech Police seem to prevent Romani refugees from disembarking at station, but say they just informed them there is no accommodation available in the country's second-largest city