'Czech Floyd's' death is making headlines around the world this week

International media are weighing in on the case of a 44-year-old Romani man who died in police custody in Teplice on Saturday.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 24.06.2021 09:49 (updated on 24.06.2021)

Prague/London/Berlin, June 23 (CTK) - The world media, as well as activist groups, are discussing the case of a Roma man who died in police custody in the Czech Republic Saturday, with many drawing parallels to the case of Black man George Floyd who was murdered by police in the U.S. last year.

Floyd's death on May 25, 2020, was preceded by a police officer kneeling on his neck for over 9 minutes.

The Czech police, citing the autopsy result, have ruled out any connection between their action in the north Bohemian town of Teplice and the death of the Roma man, who, they say, was apparently under the influence of narcotics.

The world media presented an amateur video from the police intervention in Teplice, which shows that the man struggled against the police and shouted and that the police used coercive means against him.

The Guardian news server quoted Jozef Miker, an activist, and representative of the Czech Roma community.

People told me that his name was Stanislav, and he was about 40 years old. He lived on the street but worked in a nearby supermarket as a security guard. When he saw that another man was demolishing a vehicle, Stanislav tried to intervene. When the police came, they took Stanislav to the ground thinking it was him. We created a memorial, so people know what happened; this should not go unnoticed. Many people are at work and have no idea. We will come here every day until we find out the truth,” Miker is quoted as saying.

The Guardian further cites online commentaries on the Teplice video.

“Police brutality ending in the death of Roma Gypsy young man in Teplice, Czech Republic. May the George Floyd of the Roma rest in peace,” wrote one person, cited by The Guardian.

BBC News has written, in connection with the Teplice case, that ten to 12 million Roma people live in Europe, making up the continent's biggest ethnic minority, which, nevertheless, has been pushed onto the margins of society.

Banner saying Roma Lives Matter. (Photo: František Bikár, Romea.cz)
Banner saying Roma Lives Matter. (Photo: František Bikár, Romea.cz)

According to estimates, two million Roma people live in Romania, 700,000 in Bulgaria, 500,000 in Hungary, 450,000 in Slovakia, and 300,000 in the Czech Republic. Surveys show that 41 percent of them have faced discrimination in the past five years and that 62 percent of Roma children go neither to school nor an apprentice center nor do they have a job, the BBC wrote.

Reactions of activists drawing parallels between the Teplice case and the George Floyd case in Minneapolis have also been quoted by The Washington Post.

"Advocates for the Roma community in the Czech Republic said the man was Roma and compared his killing to the death of George Floyd — the Black man whose final moments under the knee of a White police officer on a street in Minneapolis, captured in a video seen around the world," the Washington Post has written.

Floyd's death has "sparked a global protest movement against racism and police brutality, including demonstrations in the Czech Republic," the publication added.

"As a Czech Roma woman, I feel angry, sad, and terrified. Something needs to change,” Mariana Gombarova, who works with the Romano Lav organization, told The Washington Post. “It makes me so angry that this continues to happen to our communities," she is quoted as saying.

Nicu Ion, Britain's first councilor who won the elections in Newcastle in May, has told The London Economic daily that he noticed “shocking similarities to the tragic death of George Floyd” upon watching the Teplice video.

“The use of force seems very disproportionate as the victim was outnumbered by the police forces,” he added.

The German news server Deutsche Welle has cited a statement given by Michal Mizigar, a Roma activist, who called the police crackdown in Teplice the peak of brutality.

The server also mentioned the Czech police's assertion denying that the method of the man's paralyzing would have caused his death. According to the police, the man was aggressive, under the influence of methamphetamine, and died in the ambulance while driven to the hospital, Deutsche Welle wrote.

A young Roma man, Stanislav Tomáš, died in the Czech town of Teplice after the police knelt on his neck in a way similar to the way that led to the death of George Floyd in the United States last year," the office of the Roma Initiative in Berlin has written in a brief statement to ČTK.

"The video recording with the incident...reminds people of a similar incident from 2016, when 27-year-old [Roma man] Miroslav Demeter died in the Panamera pizzeria in Zatec (north Bohemia), after the local police action," the statement says, recalling that the Czech police later shelved the investigation of the case, saying that narcotics, not anyone else's action, was behind Demeter's death.

"These cases are only the tip of an iceberg. The police violence interferes deep in the life of Romanies in the Czech Republic — a country whose elected president is openly racist," the Berlin group's statement says.

Do you have a story to share with our readers? Find out more