Undaunted by the court ruling, uniformed members of the Hungarian Guard demonstrated today in Budapest. By now the demonstrators have more or less been mopped up by the Budapest police. I tried all afternoon to piece together the various reports, but I'm still not sure how many demonstrators we are talking about. Reporters on the scene gave different numbers at different times, and it's hard to tell how large this demonstration actually was. The highest estimate I saw was eight hundred demonstrators, of whom three hundred were in the uniform of the Hungarian Guard. The rest were sympathizers. Another, presumably more precise number mentioned was the 127 people who were arrested and put into paddy wagons, including Gábor Vona, president of Jobbik.
It seems that both sides are learning. The guardists arrived in small groups at Erzsébet Square dressed only in white shirts and black pants. They carried the rest of their uniform, which they donned upon arrival. Several times the police asked the demonstrators to leave the square in the direction of the Astoria Hotel. Instead the guardists sat down on the grass hanging on to one another. The sympathizers chose a less peaceful way of protesting: they started throwing beer bottles at the policemen. A newspaperman working for Index, an online paper, was also attacked. So the guardists are learning from western models of civil disobedience but so are the police, who removed the guardists one by one.
An hour or so after the beginning of the demonstration the police started to press the crowd off the square, but it took another hour to get to the point that there were only about forty uniformed men left. The sympathizers were harder to deal with. Even at 7:00 p.m. they were ready to do battle with the police. There is a jazz club at Erzsébet Square and the demonstrators started removing tables and chairs to prepare some kind of barricade. Eventually the club simply closed. Meanwhile it was beastly hot and several people became ill. The encounter had interesting moments too: an older demonstrator jumped into the pool, clothes and all. See picture of the square. Gábor Vona was apparently removed from the scene around 7:30. Shortly after this the police moved in with full force, using nightsticks, gas spray, and tear gas.
According to one internet paper two people had heart attacks; medics were on the scene. By 8:00 p.m. the square was cleared. Only a few groups lingered and complained loudly on nearby streets. Others, numbering about 150, were pushed toward the Astoria and continued marching on Rákóczi Street toward the Eastern Station. I assume that they have dispersed since.
Lawyers working for the ombudsman's office were also on the scene and told reporters that "they will be investigating." They will ask for all documentation from the police and will form their opinion only after a study of these documents. I'm a bit puzzled about this investigation. After all, the demonstration was illegal and the Hungarian Guard is no longer a legitimate organization. What is there to investigate in this case? But this ombudsman's mind works in mysterious ways.
One thing is sure: never have the police acted so resolutely (and competently) and never have they arrested so many people. Obviously the court's verdict strengthened their resolve and gave them courage. What will happen after this? If I have to predict: the usual mess. But at least this time the law seems to be on the side of the police. For some fantastic photographs, here is a link. No wonder that there were medical emergencies. Some of the warriors are old and in terrible physical shape. There is a priceless picture of one woman waving the red and white striped flag and a fellow with a very big belly. Click on "Képgaléria" under the first picture in the article http://www.fn.hu/belfold/20090704/vege_belvarosi_balhenak/