Litvínov - Armed with sticks, golf clubs and axe handles, some 70 members of the local Roma community on Saturday 4 October faced the so-called self-defence corps of the non-parliamentary far-right Workers' Party (DS) in the north Bohemian town of Litvínov, the ČeskéNoviny.cz news site has reported.
Roma were reported spitting and pouring cold water on twelve DS members, and the incident was accompanied by abusive language. Police prevented a violent clash between the two groups.
The DS deputy chairman Jiří Štěpánek said his party sent its guards to Litvínov's prefab neighbourhood Janov after receiving a request from the locals, who allegedly complained about being harassed by inadaptable neighbours. Štěpánek added that most complains were about Romani residents, excessive noise at nights, damage to private property, and attacks by Roma against other people.
The DS guards left the area after less than an hour, and were banned from re-entering the neighbourhood until 8 am today by the police, said Litvínov Mayor Milan Šťovíčka. "Our goal is to maintain public order and protect the citizens," he told the news site.
Štěpánek from the DS argues that the police fails to solve Janov's frequent tensions. The mayor refuses the allegations, saying that the party is merely trying to make itself more visible before the regional elections.
Rallies organised by the DS are often attended by neo-Nazis.
Since the town sold off its council flats, an increasing number of socially excluded and less adaptable families have been moving into Janov, a neighbourhood of 6,200 inhabitants.
A local committee established by the worried residents closely cooperates with the municipal authorities of Litvínov. In addition, a new police station was opened in the neighbourhood.