The author of the article described the incident at Babiš’s meeting. The intervention was probably not in order, experts agree — ČT24 — Czech Television

“The boy we see in the photo was with his mom at the meeting. Suddenly he went and took away the speaker with the stand,” Svobodová described, adding that after a while he returned the speaker after several challenges. The editor of Respekt stated that police officers came to the boy immediately and dealt with the incident with him.

“One of them showed him (the boy) a pancake, perhaps repeatedly, said the police president (Martin Vondrášek). They suddenly knelt on him, the boy wanted to run away, the police wanted him to prove himself, but he didn’t understand what they were saying because he has an autism spectrum disorder,” said Svobodová. However, she added that the boy did not recognize that they were police officers. “I understand that the public feels that it could have been handled differently,” she added.

The police president said at a briefing on Friday that it was wrong for the police officer to knock the boy down. According to Svobodová, the boy’s mother also reacted to the knocking, and she began to defend her son. Even she allegedly did not know that they were members of the police. “She thought it was three men sitting on her boy, or she thought it was security,” she said.

Subsequently, one of the men put on a police tape, so the mother began to calm her son and encouraged him not to fight back. According to the editor, she also told the police that her son is autistic.

Plainclothes police officers had been at the meeting since morning

The detained boy was later driven to the police station by a uniformed patrol. “Mom wanted to go with him because the boy might have a seizure from feeling threatened. However, they did not allow her to do that, saying that this is not done,” she said, adding that the policemen treated the woman politely the whole time.

“I think that it was not completely in accordance with the law,” lawyer Pavel Zuska from Otidea Legal responded to the police intervention. “Regarding the knocking, the question is whether it was necessary for three adults to knock the minor boy, especially in the situation when he returned the speaker in question. Yes, he was running, but we don’t know exactly what happened there. However, from my point of view, the procedure was really disproportionate,” he says.

According to him, it was not even okay to take the young man away without his mother, and that was in the event that the woman actually informed the police that she was under fifteen years old.

Editor Svobodová stated that she had seen two of the three non-uniformed police officers at the scene since the early hours of the morning. “I thought it was security. It seemed to me that (Andrej Babiš) had too much security there this time. It didn’t occur to me that they were police officers,” she described. According to her, the men filmed something on their mobile phone several times during the day. “That’s what the police do, but I didn’t think about it,” she added.

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One of the policemen was also wearing a red cap with the slogan of the ANO movement “Strong Czechia”, while Vondrášek spoke at the briefing on Friday about the impartiality of the police. Svobodová stated that the three non-uniformed police officers acted impartially, she allegedly did not observe anything other than the cap on the head of one of them.

The editor of Respekt also commented on the incident in Český Krumlov, when policemen in civilian clothes took a woman away from Andrej Babiš’s meeting. She slapped one of them, but she didn’t know it was a policeman. “There was probably some ideological friction there,” says Svobodová. However, she stated that she was not present at this incident.

According to Zuska, the intervention of the police in Krumlov could also have been problematic, in the event that the police loaded the woman into the car without identification. A question mark also hangs over the box that the woman gave the police officer, especially over whether the incident will be investigated as an attack on a public official, when the woman allegedly did not know that it was a police officer. “The burden of proof should be on the side of the police that the men actually proved their affiliation with the police, but it is difficult to prove in practice,” added Zuska.

Emeritus Police Councilor Jan Váňa said that if there are plainclothes policemen at the meeting, they should rather be monitoring. “In my opinion, they shouldn’t get too involved. But all the more they should observe and pass on information to their uniformed colleagues. Who, by having a uniform, are visible and clearly recognisable,” he said.

Babiš allegedly pressured the police to intervene

Svobodová also said that she has already visited several of Babiš’s meetings and she feels that the opponents of the former prime minister and head of the ANO movement are increasing at the meetings. But she also stated that Babiš’s pressure on the police to take action against his opponents is increasing. “Babiš, for example, sharply criticized the police in Tábor for not acting, that there are so many opponents and they are not doing anything about it. The police really didn’t do anything, they just patiently explained that the police intervene when there is something to intervene against,” she said.

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Svobodová refuted Babiš’s statement that his opponents are aggressive. She said it was the exact opposite. “They (opponents) only shout disapproving slogans there, but the supporters also physically attack the opponents, comment inappropriately on them, it’s really unpleasant,” she described. According to her, the police always tried to calm the situation, she described their work as professional. “It didn’t seem to me that they were helping Andrej Babiš,” she added.

Váňa pointed out that the organizer is always responsible for order at such events. “As for the police, they should intervene only when the convenor clearly cannot handle this. If there is, for example, a mutual attack, some illegal act, only then is it appropriate for the police to get involved,” he said.

This was also confirmed by Zuska. He said that only in the case of illegal conduct, it would be appropriate to call the police to intervene. “It depends on the assessment of specific circumstances, whether or not there is an illegal act in a given case. It is difficult to assess where the measure is,” he said, pointing out that police intervention must be proportionate in any case.

As for security, according to Zuska, it is not a public authority. “Security can be one of the means by which the convenor organizationally ensures the course of the assembly so that it is peaceful. However, at the moment when something is brewing, it should intervene in such a way as not to endanger the safety, health and life of other persons,” he added.

“Fascists and Nazis”

Exacerbated situations at Andrej Babiš’s meetings have been happening quite often in recent days. On Thursday, the ex-prime minister and head of the movement called the voters of the government coalition fascists and Nazis. CT said he was referring to a comment about protests at public events published in the media. “These are fascists and Nazis. These are the voters of SPOL and PirSTAN. These are the people who are dangerous. I wonder where the police are, why don’t they separate these aggressors from us?” shouted Babiš at one of the meetings.

“At every stop, I call on our supporters not to be provoked and to avoid any conflict. And I would appreciate the same from the chairmen of the government parties, whose representatives often organize protests against us,” said the head of ANO later.

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Reaction of politicians

About the incident in the show Events, comments also expressed by Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09). According to her, the actions of the police should be urgently investigated. “This is not one single case, but many of these things have come to light in the last few days,” she said, describing the police’s actions as very disturbing. “I consider trust in the police to be one of the fragile components, but at the same time it is key for people to believe that the police are not here to protect only a handful of powerful people or someone in particular,” she added.

In connection with the incident in Český Krumovsk, Pekarová Adamová said that if the police officers carry out any intervention, they must be legitimate. According to her, it is the basis. “But if trust in the police is already shaken in these foundations, then of course the police president or the minister of the interior must be the ones who guarantee that it won’t happen again,” she commented.

“I consider the situation worrying,” said Radek Vondráček, vice-chairman of the ANO movement. But he called it bad that the police chief, who has no information about the case, is commenting on it, “that he is disgusted that the matter will be investigated and the policemen will be punished”. “Saving money is perfectly fine, but I think the police president should consider how he would behave as a police officer, because things are really heated there,” Vondráček said.

According to him, the police did what they had to do, he said in connection with the boy’s arrest. “Finally, someone should stand up for those police officers, and the chief of police should do it first and foremost,” thinks the vice-chairman of ANO.

The Speaker of the Chamber also sharply criticized the fact that one of the police officers was wearing a cap of the ANO movement. “This is something that is unacceptable,” she said, adding that if a police officer wears a cap just to blend in with the crowd, the police chief should also say it’s a running tactic. But nothing like that was said at the briefing.

Even Vondráček admitted that if a policeman went to a Babiš meeting wearing a cap of the ANO movement, without a tactic, it would not be “completely kosher”. “However, it has not yet been confirmed or denied. It is the work of plainclothes police officers who document a risky demonstration where offenses are actually committed,” he added.

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