Memorial gathering at the site of Stanislav Tomáš's encounter with Czech Police turns into protest march stopped by riot units at police station
Today at 14:00 in Teplice, Czech Republic, a memorial gathering for Stanislav Tomáš, who died a week ago on 19 June after police intervened against him, was attentded by hundreds of people and grew into a protest. Speeches were made at the gathering demanding a proper investigation of the intervention preceding the death of Mr Tomáš.
At about 15:45 the assembly officially ended, but the crowd then set off on a march through Teplice that was brought to a stop by police riot units. During the memorial gathering, speakers stated loudly that they view the intervention by police against Mr Tomáš has having been wrong.
Different speakers took turns at a megaphone, including a clergyman who led prayers for the deceased. The gathering then grew into a protest and organizers from the Konexe association were no longer in control of what those who had assembled decided to do.
The crowd set off on a march through the town. The destination of the marchers was the closest police station, where they were planning to light candles as well.
Riot units stopped them near the police station on Husitská Street. The slogans "Stop racism", "Police murderers", "We want to know the truth" and others were chanted.
At 16:08 the crowd turned around and headed back in the direction they had come from. A heavy rainfall began at about that same time.
The rain apparently prevented things from escalating. According to Czech Police spokesperson Daniel Vítek, the demonstrators obeyed a police instruction to disperse.
Speaking to the Czech News Agency (ČTK), activist Miroslav Brož of the Konexe organization told them: "We lost control of it. We wanted to hold a religious gathering, a commemoration, and de facto what happened instead was a political demonstration."
When asked by ČTK, Brož added that he had alerted police to what was happening. He said he believed part of the problem was that the service that was supposed to provide proper amplification for the event had backed out.
"We lost control of the demonstration because the other groups here were the ones with megaphones, and whoever got control of the megaphone got to speak," the activist said. "We don't know the people who were controlling the demonstration."
As news server Romea.cz reported earlier today, more than one group had called for people to come to that location today. Marco Cavali, who has established a new political party called Roma Luma, and Bertík Girga, a popular musician, were among those who had also called for people to gather at the site.
It was Girga who opened the entire assembly, which was also moderated by the Romani activist Jozef Miker of Konexe. The police monitored the assembly from the beginning and closed access roads to the location, as regional police spokesperson Daniel Vítek told ČTK during the event.
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