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A ROMANI man has died in the Czech town of Teplice after police knelt on his neck, leading anti-racist campaigners to draw parallels with the killing of George Floyd in the United States last year.
Footage of the incident, circulated widely on social media, shows a police officer kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old Stanislav Tomas for about five minutes on Saturday.
In the video, the officer appears to be aware that Mr Tomas had stopped moving.
Czech police countered with their own video, declaring that Mr Tomas was “no Czech Floyd” and that the officer’s actions “had no connection with the death of the deceased.”
A similar incident took place in 2016 when 27-year-old Romani man Miroslav Demeter died at a pizzeria in Zatec.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Teplice today to demand an end to racism against Roma people and to pay their respects to Mr Tomas, placing flowers and lighting candles in his memory.
The Ergo Network, which campaigns for Romani rights, said: “We raise our voice against police brutality and anti-Gypsyism and ask authorities not to cover up the real cause of death and that there is a proper investigation.
“Only when we stand together in calling out injustice towards all groups facing discrimination, hate and racism can we make a change.”
Roma Initiative Office director Zeljko Jovanovic warned that many cases of police and far-right brutality against the Roma go unpunished.
“These cases are just the tip of an iceberg,” he said. “Police violence runs deep in the life of Roma in the Czech Republic, a country whose elected president is openly racist.
“The question for the Czech politicians who have different values than that of the president is: are you ready to take the country away from deepening fear and inter-ethnic conflict towards a society of trust, respect and solidarity for all?”
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