The second hour is approaching and hundreds of people are flocking from Kaprova Street to the Old Town Square for a planned demonstration against government measures.
“Why am I going to the demonstration? So it is perhaps clear, the government has fallen asleep. I don’t care about any veils, I’ll be happy to wear them, but the fact that I had to close the pub and lose everything doesn’t matter to me, and I’ll be chanting until I am ten here, “explains List of Reports by 50-year-old Eva from Moravia, who, along with others the members of his five-member group are affixed at the last minute by a banner stating: We are not sheep, we are not a flock. Let’s protect the children, let’s defend the law.
The group, like everyone else, moves towards the square, the police check everyone’s ID cards and search a number of participants. Even before the demonstration begins, he finds weapons or pyrotechnics in at least fifty people.
Even before the start of the demonstration, police detained almost 50 people in whom weapons and pyrotechnics were found. #policiepha
– Police of the Czech Republic (@PolicieCZ) October 18, 2020
Just after two o’clock, a Czech anthem spreads around the Old Town Square, followed by one of the organizers of the event from the Civic Dissatisfaction Movement, urging people to keep their mouths and noses covered and, most importantly, not to get caught up in any violence. “The penalty rate is much higher than normal in an emergency,” he says.
From the crowd of almost 2,000 people, the response is: “Fuck Prymula, what has to do with us veils is veilism, just like terrorism or communism.”
But the crowd calms down again and the speakers take turns in their speeches on stage. One of the first is the 36-year-old boxer Ondřej Pála, who in his speech mainly criticizes blanket regulations. “You have closed schools, sports grounds, restaurants, we will last without a beer for about a few days. You see a closed pub, dear government, but I see a single waitress who doesn’t have a job and has to borrow now so she can eat, “he calls to the crowd of Pála. This moment is garnered with great applause, and a group of five women standing by a Marian column sighs that it is precisely because of this that they came from Ostrava for a demonstration.
“I’ve been a waitress all my life, but we had to close in the spring and now it’s ruined. I don’t have a job and I’m still paying off debts, “explains Martina, 52. “I’m not talking about any veils, I’m talking about the government falling asleep, doing nothing during the summer and we ended up the way we did, so let’s have a bug, because if it doesn’t, people won’t find out,” adds Martina her girlfriend.
It doesn’t look like a clash with the police before three o’clock. However, it calls on the municipality to dissolve the action because it violates the maximum allowed limit of five hundred people who can gather for a demonstration according to anti-epidemic measures. The protest is finally officially ended at about three o’clock by the organizers themselves with the words: “We will meet at other demonstrations, where there will be fans,” and a call for the protesters to take peacefully to the streets.
However, it does not take even ten minutes and firecrackers and smokestacks begin to fly through the air in the middle of the square. Protesters are chanting slogans such as “Stop lying” or “Grandma and Prymulo, go on the noose or calmly on the gas.”
Several groups of football ultras are starting to move from the center of the square to one of the entrances to the Old Town Square, namely the one on Kaprova Street, which is guarded by more than ten heavily clothed people on the spot.
The virus does not exist, it sounds from the crowd
“Throw a bottle at them, Mara, do it, don’t worry,” one of the group of football ultras yells at his colleague. He then actually throws a glass bottle and then flares up. For chanting “even more”, more aggressive fans are gradually joining, trying to break the barricade of police officers while throwing heavy objects, trash cans and physically attacking them.
However, aggressive fans will also hit the protesters, who are trying to get out of the square, with sharp objects. “I want to go out, but how do I do that when the entrances are guarded by the police. Who punctured it as a whole, “one middle-aged gentleman asks, looking for an answer from his Moravian friends. As soon as he says the sentence, an empty PET beer bottle arrives beside him.
“It was caused by the footballers, that’s for sure. It annoys them that they can’t watch someone kicking a meringue, “another participant in the demonstration responds to his words, picks up a bottle from the ground and throws it at the heavily-clad, before whom the bike lands. “He deserves it. They have nothing to stop us from expressing our opinion. There is no virus, “he adds.
After about another five minutes, a cordon of police officers sets out to meet the ultras and pushes them deeper into the Old Town Square. The police then start arresting individuals, who they manage to pull out of the attacking crowd and gradually push the most aggressive group into Celetná Street. He will use tear gas and water cannons for this.
“At least the veil is good for the tear gas,” says Martin, 43, when asked how he perceives the situation to worsen after the demonstration. “So I’m a tram, I wanted to hear what was going to happen here, but it was to be expected, people are angry with the government. They fell asleep and now ordinary people are on the line, “he adds.
After about four o’clock, the situation begins to calm down slowly, with police antonyers announcing that people should leave the Old Town Square immediately. The protesters therefore begin to slowly withdraw from the Marian column to the exits from the square. Along the way, some groups throw flares and shout at it: We don’t like what’s going on, the stadiums are closed, no league is running and “the Prymula” is to blame.
“The government has fallen asleep”
When asked List of News, why they came to the demonstration, only the answer is that they are fans of Baník Ostrava and due to the measures there is not much to live for. “So let’s sing, boys. Ah, that’s another thing they actually forbade us. So you see, we won’t even make us happy by singing anymore, “explains twenty-four-year-old Ondřej.
After half past four, the square empties, but dozens of people are still waiting at the entrances and watching the situation, as police clashes with aggressive fans continue. It therefore calls for further exit from the square and arrests other aggressive protesters.
Even those who came to the demonstration calmly share a similar view on widespread measures: “People are dissatisfied because the government fell asleep in solving the crisis in the summer,” says Miroslav, 65, from Ostrava. Marie, 40, sees it in a similar way: “We don’t mind that the government neglected it, speeded everything up, the borders opened and now we are paying for it. We must make it clear that we lost our jobs because of their decision, “he explains the outrage of the demonstrators.
After the protest, the prime minister made it known that he was shocked at how ruthless and selfish some citizens are, who threaten themselves and others.
I am shocked at how ruthless and selfish some of our citizens are who do not abide by government regulations and endanger themselves and others. I am for their harsh punishment.
– Andrej Babis (@AndrejBabis) October 18, 2020
The participants in the demonstration were also criticized by the Minister of Health Roman Prymula (for YES). According to his statement for the iDnes.cz server, this demonstration will probably bring hundreds more unnecessarily infected with coronavirus. “When I saw what was happening there, I consider it almost a contempt for the work of front-line health professionals who risk infection, in order to minimize further morbidity and the spread of the disease,” Minister Prymula quoted the server as saying.
Criticism has also been leveled by Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček, who claims that it has just been confirmed that organized football hooligans will misuse the convened demonstration.