Saturday’s security measures responding to anti-Roma demonstrations in the Šluknov district cost the police CZK 3 million. Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice, speaking on Czech Television today, said the 14-day presence of special forces units in the region cost another CZK 3.5 million. “The police corps must bear these costs for maintaining order,” he said, adding that he believes the current police budget will be able to sustain these unusual events until year-end.
Yesterday there were 600 police officers in the field responding to demonstrations convened by extremists from the Workers’ Social Justice Party (Dělnická strany sociální spravedlnosti – DSSS) in the Šluknov district. For the past two weeks, special forces police have reinforced local police forces with more than 50 people due to the tense situation in the region. Last week Czech PM Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats – ODS) repeatedly stated that the police officers will remain in the Šluknov district until the situation is pacified, “no matter what the cost.”
Police officers on the scene of yesterday’s unrest are reporting its costs as in the “hundreds of thousands”. Two demonstrations this month in Varnsdorf have cost police approximately CZK 600 000 in additional costs. However, this is because a significant portion of police officers will not be paid overtime, but will instead take vacation time in exchange for the hours served. Each police officer costs CZK 275 per hour of intervention, Jarmila Hrubešová, spokesperson for the police in Ústí Region, previously reported. A six-member team working a 12-hour shift, therefore, costs about CZK 2 million.
Other matters also cost the police a significant amount of money. During Saturday a total of three EC-135 helicopters were deployed at an estimated cost per flight hour of between CZK 22 000 and CZK 35 000.
Six people were injured during Saturday’s demonstrations, three of whom were riot police. The officers were injured by flying stones during the street fighting in Varnsdorf. No one seems to have been seriously injured; three riot police suffered injury from the stones being thrown at their arms or faces. During the clashes in Varnsdorf three demonstrators were also injured, one by a firecracker and another after being beaten with a truncheon. A drunken woman also injured her shoulder during a fall, according to police statistics. Three police cars were also damaged by foreign objects.
Police officers detained 41 people at police stations, six of whom are suspected of having committed felonies. Two are suspected of attacking police officers in Varnsdorf, three of promoting a banned movement, and one of inciting violence. If found guilty, they face prison sentences of as much as five years behind bars.
Hrubešová reports that the most aggressive demonstrators were from out of town. During a highway check near Varnsdorf, one man ran out of a bus and shot at police officers with a gas pistol. “He had come all the way from Hradec Králové. The man who is being criminally charged for wearing banned symbols is from České Budějovice,” he said. “It’s evident that some came to Varnsdorf to take out their aggressions from places in the republic that are rather far away.”
Both DSSS promoters and activists expressing support for Romani people demonstrated in North Bohemia yesterday. In the towns of Nový Boru and Rumburk, the events took place without any more serious incidents occurring, but in Varnsdorf, extremists together with local ethnic Czechs set off on an unannounced march to a Romani residential hotel, where they attacked riot police with bottles and stones. Police used stun grenades and water cannon to disperse the rioters.
Tension between ethnic Czechs and Romani people escalated in the Šluknov foothills in mid-August. Local ethnic Czechs have convened several demonstrations targeting Romani people since then. Extremist movements have joined them in convening demonstrations as of last week. Saturday’s demonstrations were organized by the ultra-right DSSS party.