České Budějovice braces for more violence as new anti-Roma demo called|
The city of České Budějovice in South Bohemia is bracing for more
violent anti-Roma protests this weekend, and police fear they could attract
neo-Nazi skinheads from both the Czech Republic and abroad. Last Saturday
an anti-Romany demonstration was followed by an unannounced march to the
local Máj housing estate, home to about 350 Romanies. Around a dozen
people were injured as marchers clashed with riot police.
There were ugly scenes at the Máj housing estate in České Budějovice on
Saturday, as demonstrators – many of them neo-Nazis – tried to break
through a cordon of riot police. The marchers had peeled off from an
earlier permitted demonstration, called after an incident in a children’s
playground escalated into a violent conflict between Roma and white
Police have been criticised for their handling of both the demonstration
and the march that followed – local people can be heard on video footage
shouting ‘black bastards’ before the unannounced march set off towards
the housing estate, but a local police spokesman claimed the epithet was
aimed at them, not at Roma citizens. The march itself saw neo-Nazis giving
the Hitler salute and shouting racist slogans, cheered on – and then
joined by - local residents.
In total some 10 people were injured in clashes with riot police and forty
people were arrested; no charges have yet been made. Police say they are
still evaluating video footage of the events.
There have been no further incidents since Saturday but police are on high
alert – a number of Facebook pages have sprung up advertising an event
variously described as “A Demonstration Against Black Racism”, “A
Demonstration Against Non-Adaptable Citizens” and simply “A Walk
Through České Budějovice”. Police fear a second demonstration could
attract hundreds of far-right extremists from the Czech Republic and even
neighbouring countries. The mayor of the city has called on people not to
join forces with the skinheads; certainly, the city is bracing for trouble.
There have been similar far-right demonstrations before in the Czech
Republic, but commentators have warned of a new, dangerous trend; so-called
‘decent’ Czech citizens cheering on and even marching alongside
neo-Nazis in towns with socially excluded Roma communities, living in
dilapidated housing estates in rundown parts of town, usually after being
moved in as part of some nefarious housing scam involving corrupt property
speculators and quickly becoming hotbeds of crime and disorder. NGOs say
the problem is that these communities are beginning to resemble ghettos,
and the marches against them pogroms.