Zywiec City Council Shows Support for Local Roma

The Zywiec City Council and the city’s Association of Roma will organize a Roma cultural festival and other events to help counter racism against Roma.

The decision was made after skinheads painted racist graffiti on the outside walls of Roma homes in Zywiec, where about 200 Roma live.

“Sociologists and Roma experts will lead interesting, educational meetings,” said Zywiec City Council spokesman Tomasz Terteka.

In addition, “in schools we will organize a photographic exhibition which tells about the Roma’s life in Poland,” he said. Next year the city plans a Roma cultural festival that will last several days. It will include exhibits and bands, he said.

Two months ago skinheads painted racial slurs on a building where Roma live. Police made several arrests recently.
The suspects will be charged with destruction of property and fascist activities.

The Roma association complained that police took too long to make the arrests – an accusation police deny.

“We expect a decisive approach from the police against people who are spreading hatred and exhort others” to hatred, an association statement said. The statement added that Roma want both city and local church officials “to condemn those people for racist practices and take some actions which will prevent similar situations in the future.”

Police say they moved as quickly as they could on the case.
“We don’t treat Roma like second-class citizens,” said police spokesman Wieslaw Zon. He said police take each case before them seriously, and act accordingly.

Terteka said the city does everything it can to help Roma have a better life.

“We try to improve their living conditions,” he said. For example, “they receive financial and material benefits from the Municipal Social Assistance Center.”

What’s more, “for three years Zywiec has been a participant in the government program ‘Assist a Roma,'” he said. Under that program, a Roma becomes a teacher’s helper. His or her work includes helping Roma children with homework and making sure they are safe to and from school. The city council also gives the teacher’s helper money for children’s books.

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