Romanies attack town hall employees at culture festival

Prague, 4. 9. 2005, 20:00 (CTK)

Police had to intervene against participants in the "We Can Communicate" minority festival in Olomouc during which a large group of Romanies attacked Olomouc town hall employees on Saturday, the tabloid Nedelni Blesk writes today. Several police cars arrived on the sport to put an end to a large brawl that broke out between Romanies and the town hall employees with whom they played a soccer match. The organisers say, however, that nothing serious has happened.

According to one of the civil servants, his colleague pushed a Romany player who had previously kicked him in the neck with his fist. About 50 Romanies then ran onto the playing field and a brawl broke out.

The Romanies shouted at the civil servants that they would kill their families, a member of the town hall said. Two the most aggressive assailants were identified by the police, but the case will probably be solved as a misdemeanour, a police spokeswoman said.

The organisers of the festival said that no drama occurred at the playing field.

Regional coordinator for ethnic minorities Renata Koettnerova told CTK today that according to some participants in the event, it was members of the town hall who provoked the clash.

"The chairwoman of the Society of Romanies in Moravia pointed out during the game that a member of the civil servants' team injured one player and attacked an underage player. She voiced the suspicion that the team of the civil servants was under alcohol. But she did not want the organisers to enter the playing field, however," Koettnerova said.

She said that when the police arrived the chairwoman proposed that members of both teams were subjected to alcohol tests. The town hall team then left the field prematurely.

"The case should be thoroughly investigated. Romanies were leaving the event with a feeling of injustice that no one will believe them. It is very difficult to build confidence between the majority society and Romanies and the established fragile relations can be completely frustrated during several minutes," Koettnerova said.

"It is an absolutely marginal incident, no one has noticed any hell that allegedly broke loose," Dusan Dvorak, one of the organisers of the festival, said.


This is yet another incident that does not make for good relations and a good name of our People. We must get away from things like that. Yes, Gohja also do those things but… when it happens to be Romani People it is, "the bad Gypsies" and such, and, very much like the way the Jews used to be vilified so are we. Theoretically it is illegal to use the ethnic description but it is being done and when people see Gypsies/Romani as the culprits they will see us as being a problem (as usual). Therefore we - all of us - have to be especially careful as to how we behave, especially in public view.