- Mikuláš Vochozka
Czech George Floyd or a New Figure of Media Manipulation?
The recent death of a young Roma man became huge news in the Czech Republic’s media. Some media sources talked about a drug addict and dangerous recidivist and others about “Czech George Floyd”. Foreign media mostly took the angle of the latter. What really happened?
On June 19, a young man of Roma origin died in Teplice, Czech Republic, shortly after a police operation. The man was caught in a video before the police arrived, in which he is apparently under the influence of drugs. An autopsy later revealed that it was an amphetamine-based drug. The man on the recording screams, moves badly and beats his bare fist into the parked cars. Then he hits the car glass a
few times with his forehead and then falls to the ground where he lies briefly before standing up again. This is where the recording ends.
A patrol was called to the scene, which restrained the man because he disobeyed the police's instructions. The man defended himself against the arrest and attacked, scratched and bit the guards. The responding police officer had to kneel for a few minutes on the man’s neck, and an ambulance was called due to the obvious intoxication. The men were then taken over by emergency workers, but the apprehended man collapsed during the transport to the hospital and despite the attempted resuscitation, it was not possible to restore him back to life.
A forensic autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was an overdose of amphetamine-based drugs (assumed to be meth). A forensic autopsy did not show that the police intervention affected the young man's death. The police of the Czech Republic denied any mistake in the intervention.
The case was taken up by anti-police brutality activists and the non-profit organization Roma dealing with the issue of racism against the Roma. They compare the case to the case of the late African-American George Floyd, who died in a similar police operation. The difference between the case from Minneapolis and Teplice is that a court autopsy in the Czech Republic proved the death of the apprehended Roma was due to a drug overdose.
The American media presents the case as a mistake of police officers and police brutality towards Roma in the Czech Republic. The Council of Europe and Amnesty International call on the Czech Republic to conduct a proper investigation.
"This is a contrived case," reads the other side of the political spectrum. "The tragic death of a man killed by his drug addiction. The police officers' intervention was adequate, towards a man who was extremely aggressive towards himself and was a potential danger to his surroundings. "