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Monday, 14 March 2011

More eyewitness testimonies from brutal police intervention in Nový Bydžov Czech Rep)

ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Eyewitnesses to the brutal police intervention against a peaceful gathering of those opposing the neo-Nazi march in Na Šarlejích street in Nový Bydžov have been writing in to the editors at news server Romea.cz. According to those harmed and to eyewitnesses, the entire intervention was disproportionate and very brutal. Mounted police officers rode their horses at top speed into a crowd of people who luckily managed to begin a retreat just before the onslaught began. News server Romea.cz and news server Denikreferendum.cz have published several accounts.

The start of the intervention was described for news server Romea.cz by Karel Richter: "The police horses set off at a gallop and charge the crowd with brutal force. Their riders, armed with long night sticks, swing at the demonstrators willy-nilly. The body of one of the horses throws me aside and pushes me against the alley wall. The crowd is separated into two parts, each pressed against the walls of the alley, with the police riders in the center charging people and beating them with their night sticks. I hear the smacking noise as one of the riders breaks the nose of a young girl standing next to me with his night stick. She is bleeding profusely. I want to help her but I can't, I can't get to her, the police rider is swinging his arms at me and luckily misses my head by a few centimeters, but air brushes my face as the stick swooshes past. Police officers then start using tactical explosions, throwing stun grenades into the tangles of people who are shouting with fear, pressed to the walls, being sliced at by the police riders. People are screaming with fear like animals and running away."

Another demonstrator wrote to news server Romea.cz: "As I started running out of fear, police officers riding those poor horses slammed me into the fence. I tried to speed up. Even though the mounted police could clearly see they had achieved what they wanted and that I and the other demonstrators, all out of our minds with fear, were now running away along the fence, they did not stop swinging at us with their night sticks. I was struck on the shoulder, as was a somewhat older woman in front of me."

Another 58-year-old demonstrator sent in her eyewitness account to news server Romea.cz and emphasized that she is not some teenager spoiling for a fight. "I was standing in the front, I believe in the third row (waiting for Ondřej Liška to return from the town hall) and I could not believe my eyes that it was possible to intervene against us so brutally and so quickly just because we were standing in the way. Aren't there worse misdeeds and crimes going on in this country? A cop grabbed my bag and pulled me out of the crowd, flinging me to the ground, and I was glad that some good soul pulled me out of the pandemonium and got me up off of my broken knees, because the pressure of the cops taking off and the horses and the shoving people could not be withstood. We had just been standing there with our arms linked, no one had done anything. A girl next to us got a truncheon to the head and was bleeding so much she couldn't even see the road," the victim told us.

Martin Marek, a student activist from Plzeň, described the intervention for Deník Referendum as follows: "The police called on those present to disperse, which most of them did not do, but rather attempted to form human chains in several rows. A disproportionate police intervention was then launched against the non-violent, peaceful gathering. The riot police parted their ranks and made way for mounted police to gallop aggressively and incomprehensibly into the passively standing people. Some people never even managed to get up off the ground before the intervention began and found themselves directly beneath the hooves of the police horses. Most of those gathered had no room to retreat in the narrow space, so they were struck by police with night sticks and collapsible truncheons. A small group of roughly six people were surrounded by police officers by the wall of one of the buildings. The officers repeatedly struck them with night sticks and charged them with the horses before letting them leave the scene. One of the police officers standing apart from the protesters was struck down by a horse and then the riot police ran at the surprised and out-of-breath demonstrators and started to use firecrackers in addition to truncheons."

Martin Marek also points out that some of the riot police were not wearing identification numbers, so it is not possible to identify them and complain against specific officers for using disproportionate force, such as those who used the metal collapsible truncheons. "People drew attention to the police officers' lack of numbers before the intervention, but in vain," Martin Marek writes.

Another demonstrator, Dagmar Daňková, responding to the coverage on TV NOVA, which labeled all of those who had counter-demonstrated as anarchists, wrote for Deník Referendum: "Am I a typical anarchist? I am the mother of a grown son, a teacher who forces her friends to stamp their public transportation tickets even coming home from a party at night. Before it all started, I was admonishing a boy from Antifa that the police are not our enemies. I hope the welt on my arm hurts a good while longer so I can be reminded how terribly clueless I am."

Another demonstrator sent an e-mail to Romea.cz that reads: "I, for example, was reading in order to make the time pass. When the horses suddenly charged us, I was pressed to the wall and the infantry started to push us. Before I could put my book away, a riot cop had battered it out of my hands. He let fly to get that book away from me, probably in the interest of securing order, and batted it beneath his colleagues' feet. There was no other reason for him to do that. One of the last people to be pushed out of the street selflessly managed to pick it up, so I won't have to pay the library fine. In the meantime, I saw a shower of completely unjustified blows being struck by the infantry with their truncheons and even more malicious blows being struck from the height of the horses' saddles - which surprisingly managed to miss me - and a few firecrackers exploded beneath my feet. In the noise, smoke and stench you couldn't see or hear. Of course, all it would have taken to get us to move out of the way of the neo-Nazi march would have been to have pushed us back with the infantry. Practically no one would have offered any resistance, we were all empty-handed. We did not come there to fight with anyone, the cops least of all. I did not see anyone who wanted a fight, and against a police phalanx we would have been powerless."

Were you among the demonstrators in Na Šarlejích street? Describe your experiences to us and let us know if you were injured! Send us your photographs or video footage of this brutal police intervention! Write to us at romea@romea.cz.