A night in the police cells in Prague
< Olivie Brabcová
I sympathise with squatting because I want the derelict building in Apolinářská Street to become an independent cultural centre, says Prague sociology student Olivie Brabcová (24). Because of this, I have been punished by 14 hours of humiliation by the police.
On Saturday 12th September, people were pushed out by the police from the house in Apolinářská Street to the pavements on the opposite side of the street. Sympathisers with the squatters constantly crossed the street along the zebra crossing, but they didn't bloc the traffic (they allowed a tram to pass through). Later, the street was closed by the police.
Suddenly, everyone was pushed out of the whole street. People were being hit by long police truncheons. The police attacked even those individuals who were sitting in the street. The police also attacked journalists.
It wasn't clear that the police wanted people to vacate the whole street. I understood that we were not to block the traffic and not to try to move towards the squat. I was arrested when I was about two blocks of flats away from the squat. I did not commit any offence. I did not attack anyone and did not disrupt public order.
The police cordoned off the street at both ends and placed us against the wall. It was cold and we were forced to stand at the wall with our arms raised above our heads for more than two hours. We were not allowed to talk, we were not allowed to go to the toilet.
At around midnight men were taken away by the police first, women were not taken until later.
At the Bartolomějská police station we were forced to stand by the wall, with our arms above our heads, until about three o'clock in the morning. At about three am, people were starting to collapse on the floor due to tiredness. The police tried to lift them up, but later allowed us to sit on the floor. The police subjected us to verbal abuse.
At five o'clock in the morning, we were taken to the cells. We weren't given any blankets. There was an unpleasant stench in the cells. There were 3 to 15 people in each of the cells.
All the apprehended foreigners were placed in a single cell and there was no interpreter. The police spoke Czech to them. They were not given a translation of the leaflet detailing their rights after arrest until much later. The police said to the foreigners: "You are in the Czech Republic, so speak Czech!"
A few people were given the right to telephone their families, my friend was denied this right. She wanted to telephone her lawyer.
They gave us two dry pieces of bread to eat.
My father telephoned the Bartolomějská street police station at 9 am to ask whether I have been arrested. The police told him I haven't been.
At 10.30, I was taken to the Smíchov police station were the local officer was verbally abusive. He tried to write a protocol with me, but he distorted what I said, so I refused to testify.
I was released at 11.15, after more than 14 hours. Another girl, a friend of mine, spent 17 hours in police detention. For an hour and a half she was lying on a cold floor.