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May Day Demonstration -- Prague 2012

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Approximately 2,000 people gathered at Namesti Republiky for a May Day demonstration and march through Prague. There was an enormous riot-police presence. They came to a peaceful May Day protest heavily armed with chemical weapons, flash grenades and nightsticks. Despite the 80+-degree weather, they had their faces covered with balaklavas under shielded helmets and wore ninja gloves. Before the procession began, they marched into position, completely surrounding us. Along the route, they randomly stopped the march several times -- apparently just because they could.

At the bottom of Wenceslas Square, a pro-fascist group had held a rally earlier in the day, and many still lingered. As our group approached the Mustek metro station, bottles, paving stones and random objects began to fly, first from the pro-fascists' side and then from our side.

The situation was made much worse by the riot police, who stopped the march and kettled us into a dangerous corner, forcing us to duck and dodge the flying objects overhead. An elderly man behind me was hit in the head with a paving stone. The riot cops grabbed him by the neck and dragged him off as if he were a criminal. A young woman next to me was hit in the hand and knee and was bleeding. In addition to having to defend ourselves from flying objects overhead, two or three riot police began to aggressively push people for no reason, trying to provoke them. After about 10 minutes of this ridiculous situation, the riot cops finally let us proceed.

We continued the march past the old Magic Lantern Theater and Narodni Divadlo (National Theater) to the Most Legii (Legion Bridge) over the Vlatava River. The Legion Bridge in Prague is named after the Czechoslovak legions, an army of volunteers who fought during World War I to achieve the independence of Slovakia and Bohemia from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, leading eventually to the formation of the State of Czechoslovakia in 1918.

Photos by greydog @ 99GetSmart

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Linda Ross aka greydogg is a blogger at 99GetSmart
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