## Saturday, March 01, 2008

### A far-right rally in Pilsen

I took 132 pictures at a bizarre far-right rally in Pilsen today:
Thumbnails I, thumbnails II
The mayor banned the previous rally in Pilsen but the courts decided that his ban was unconstitutional so the rally was organized again. In a truly free country, mayors sometimes have a hard time to get away with similar common sense decisions but it doesn't necessarily mean that the far-right citizens represent an actual threat.

They gathered at the central municipal bus station. Some of them were late because of Big Wind Emma that is just visiting Central Europe. Once they started, they gave a few nervous speeches defending the freedom of speech - something that they have absolutely received, as far as I can say - and speeches against the democratic establishment and against the government, especially against its members whose roots are not 100% Czech.
Video (for Czech public TV): by Ondřej Giňa; I talked to him and took his picture
In the very same speeches, there has also been a lot of pro-worker stuff, something that I would classify as a far-left populist propaganda; with these guys, you can't really say whether they're right-wing or left-wing, only that they are morons. None of the 150 people looked particularly dangerous or aggressive but these features could be context-dependent. Some cops were saying "if these guys are extremists, it must be pretty hard to tell, even if you live with them and they return home".

The police has used the event to show its muscles. They were simply impressive. A helicopter, water cannons, a lot of horses, dogs, trucks, tanks, hundreds of cars, and 1,000 cops with all kinds of fascinating equipment. You could call it a massive overreaction but it was fun anyway. They completely isolated the center of the city - around the Square of the Republic - and safely separated the neo-Nazis from the anarchists. In the neo-Nazi speeches, all the anarchists who gathered near the Pilsner Synagogue (the third largest synagogue in the world) for an anti-protest were described as Jews, a remark that made everyone who was not neo-Nazi laugh out loud.

I wonder how much did the police pay for this entertaining theater. Maybe next time, the neo-Nazis should be encouraged to buy tickets to fund the event; a ticket would clearly have to cost thousands of dollars to cover the police expenses. ;-) On the other hand, it might be useful for the police men and women to have some training, and a semi-serious opportunity like this one could be somewhat more exciting than a completely artificial drill. So when I combine my mixed feelings, it is probably a good idea to give those 150 nuts as much freedom as they want and use the overwhelming power to make them harmless.