Thursday, August 04, 2005

Massive police violence at Czechtek

(I edited out some more musings on the larger significance of traveller/squatter culture and its relatively minimal presence in the US, mostly through American dominance of ideological/cultural weapons and promises, though with some important exceptions for focused brutality. )

The more I saw of the police actions in Czech republic this past weekend, the less able I am to distance myself with critiques about the significance of freetekno culture etc etc (or the significance of this relatively minor event to the massive and ongoing brutality the US is perpetuating worldwide.) Maybe later I can break down more of that. But I'm too angry now.

These musings aside, I still feel these (freetekno or even better music) kinds of release are really important to people. For whatever reason (that many many musers have and will address). The early few videos are kind of amazing. These pasty white kids in their multi-black clothing, reddening not under the sun but from the grey clouds from cops.

The fact is, over 5000 people jumped ahead of, broke through or snuck through police blockades, many walked, left mostly junky but often precious and shared cars by the side of the road to dance before the speaker towers, behind police lines and under the helicopters. Something about this culture is incredibly important to people.. that in itself is kind of fascinating.

and perhaps with Czech republic's joining of the EU, that culture has to be repressed still more. For some reason (not even believably given), the police decided to shut down the event. -- welcome to the land of property -ueber-alles! Although it looks like this time they were even legally allowed to be on the land (i.e. they had rented it)!

So what exactly is being policed here? they only law they cite is (apparently inapplicable) property law.

Anyway shouts and love to all the lovely czech folk who have come out and shown love, and who keep doing good stuff - I've had the good luck to be well treated by Wakata, bassbeast, dread beat, the lab respekt Aleche Trash/panicsauce, the people of Milada... hope everyone got through ok.. remember bitter greens (like dandelion) help detox all that outta your system, that and whole dark grains, lots of water (even that fizzy stuff y'all drink out there).

I also want to note that the music (the soundsystem nearby) changes to jungle precisely as the first pops of teargas canisters being shot towards the crowd goes off. I heard those pops in my headphones and immediately started to shake - I'm shaking now- partly from memories of Miami in 2004 at the FTAA protests, and partly because the previous video showed a mother and baby smiling up at the videographer, and teargas is particularly not-good for infant lungs and eyes, as I'm sure you can imagine. The more I think about this, the more furious I get. So much so that I will probably rewrite this essay again later (not to erase this original, but to repost it).. But it's breaking news now, and I encourage you all to follow how it goes...

As the first gas (that most-favorite Gift from police to crowds) starts to reach the people, the dancers twist down a bit and put their faces in their hands, the soundsystem drops out, the video shifts, and then the bass and skitter of dubsounds filter through for a moment.

It seems too pornographic to continue with pinpointing the violence, and the soundtrack... Suffice to say, folks are unarmed and in tshirts and tank tops in a summer festival, and there seem to be hundreds if not thousands of armored and armed cops, a tank(apparently not used), flashes of light and sound that I'd definitely call concussion grenades, gas, staggering and a bit of swinging, water cannons (definitely used), and the music, nearly interminably continuing (but not quite, in the end). It's a strange scene.

Police violence at Czechtek festival
videos available in 12 quicktime segments, or via torrents
and mirrors listed here:

(from czech indymedia, further stories available (in english as well) from slovenia)(i think))
"The first soundsystems and visitors gathered, on legally rented land, near the city of Milec, on Friday Morning (29th July). From the early hours the police blocked the exits from the highway, D5, causing an 8 km long traffic jam. Eyewitnesses reported police trying to stop people leaving the highway based on their looks. Around 150 people sat on the road requesting to continue on their way to Milec. After 6 hours, following an ultimatum, at 13:00 the police used water-cannons and heavy force to clear the blocked highway. Abandoned cars were towed away. The police continued to block exits to the highway, as well as several routes around Milec."

"Official statements from the police said that the legal contract between the owner of the land on which Czechtek 2005 was to take place were invalid. The Czech Minister for Justice, Frantisek Bublan, a member of the social-democratic CSSD, also stated that the contract was invalid and claimed that the owner of the land had revoked it. Later on Friday the contract got to the media, as well as several inteviews with the legal owner of the land. These confimed his support of the event and the validity of the contract. Following his statement, Senator Jaromír Štětina and the Czech Green Party requested that Minister Buban stops the raid against citizens of Czech republic who have not commited any crime by gathering on legaly rented land. Nevertheless, the police continued to block the area without reason.

During the night several thousand visitors managed to pass the police lines, leaving cars behind on the road. The police received reinforcements from Pilsen, brought in vans and buses. By Saturday morning, the party had 5000 visitors and around 300 cars that had managed to make it. Music started to play from the soundsystems.
A spokesperson from the Czech police claimed that the visitors had damaged neighboring land whend trying to pass their blockade. The landowners filled a legal complaint against the organisers of Czechtek 2005. Citizens of �jezd pod P�imdou, a small town near the event signed a petition and handed it to the Police Commander requesting that the participants be allowed to continue on their way. The streets of the city were filled with cars and people who failed to go through the police street cordons.

Police redirected cars coming from the German border in Rozvadov to other border crossings. According to their statistics 105 out of 249 foreigners were turned back at the border on the basis of "coloured old cars, haircuts and tattoos".* The D5 Highway was closed on both sides between 128 and 135km."

*Ah, the old fiction of passports and visas crumbles still further. Some people always knew - or were rather taught from small- that hair and skin was enough..
no need to mystify with DNA, that to-do about genetic tracking is a new fear mostly for people whose bodies had until recently sent the right message to the borderguards. Not that these expansions of the state into that hidden genetic territory shouldn't be feared, but let's not discount the existing power of simple eyes (and dicks) who monitor us already, and how that's already shaped these borders new-like-EU and older, too.


  1. Hello.I am from czech republic and was there. Thank you for the compassion for us. I also hope that situation in USA will be better.

    Last week there was tekk demonstration as DIY carneval march through Prague. people took masks and went through streets with playing sound systems with intend to convince other people that tek people are not aggresive junkies as many people believe. One female reporter from czech tv was caught dancing to music in live feed when she was as she said trying to get easy of nervosity. check these uplifting fotos

    People from passing trams were smiling a often waving and it seems that many people including us were very entertained:) It was fun. There certainly is better future for us all.

    sory for my english maybe i made same misscakes ;]