The protest against the government measures regarding the COVID-19 outbreak turned into a battlefield this Sunday at the Old Town Square. According to Prague City Hall, 2000 people participated in the demonstration, even though only 500 were allowed.
Officially, the event was supposed to shut down after 3 pm, since the protesters reached the limit of 500 participants. The police asked demonstrators to leave, but some of them tried to attack the police with pyrotechnics. Jan Švejdar, the Police Chief, stated that police interfered only when the protesters tried to disobey the rules. Also, most of the demonstrators didn’t wear face masks.
Five people were transferred to the hospitals, three suffered minor injuries. Rescuers stated on Twitter that people mostly got head injuries or difficulties breathing because of the tear gas. Rescuers also provided on-place care to those injured.
After the demonstration, hooligans started to throw pyrotechnics, trash cans, and even toilet cabins at the police officers. The main action began at Kaprova street where the protesters started to move towards the Government Office at the Straka Academy. The police were suppressing active participants with water cannons.
Protesters, mostly football and hockey fans, used cursive slogans like “Fuck Prymula” against Roman Prymula, the Minister of Health. They didn’t agree with the current rules such as banning indoor sports activities and closing bars and restaurants. Prymula already responded to the protesters:
“When I saw what was going on there, I considered it almost a contempt for the work of front-line health professionals who risk infection to minimize further illness and the spread of the disease.”
Andrej Babiš, the Prime Minister, stated how “ruthless and selfish” the demonstrators are and that they are putting the other citizens at risk by their actions. He also thanked the police for their work. Jan Hamáček, the Minister of the Interior, also added that the police acted professionally.