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Sunday 9 October 2011

Gypsies And Travelers Under Attack

Gypsies And Travelers Under Attack
September 18th, 2011 
Gypsies have been under assault in Europe seemingly forever. Like the Jews, they have been favorite targets of prejudice. Travelers in England and Ireland seem to suffer from prejudice although not to the same degree of violence as in Eastern Europe where there are killings of Gypsies. Recently France kicked many gypsies out of the country as did Germany when it evicted many Roma who had gone there to escape the violence around the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the ethnic violence in the subsequent states in the region. 

In the USA gypsies and travelers are under surveillance from the police and often are blamed for petty larceny and remodeling scams. There are quite a few Gypsy heritage sites geared for those with suspected gypsy ancestry who want to reminisce about the more free-wheeling days of the past. 

I have personally met gypsies on a few occasions. My favorite was when I was working at a street fair in Manhattan back in 1981, as a block monitor. Gypsies came to me asking to occupy the unoccupied spots on the block. I told them they could until the lessees showed up at which time they would have to leave. The gypsies gave me a hundred dollars a spot. I made a lot more money off of them than I did from the fair, which was only paying something like $10 an hour. By midday there was a battle brewing because one of the gypsies refused to leave when the lessee showed up. The management got involved and the gypsy and I got kicked out. I didn't mind I had made about $300 - $400 so far that day and even if the gypsies didn't make out, I did. Tom Sawyer had nothing on me. But back then I was living hand to mouth and every buck counted.

From NY Times'

"As Economic Turmoil Mounts, So Do Attacks on Hungary's Gypsies 

Prejudice against Roma �widely known as Gypsies and long among Europe's most oppressed minority groups �has swelled into a wave of violence. Over the past year, at least seven Roma have been killed in Hungary, and Roma leaders have counted some 30 Molotov cocktail attacks against Roma homes, often accompanied by sprays of gunfire."

From Der Spiegel Online

"Anti-Roma Protests Turn Violent in the Czech Republic

By Frank Brunner in Nov�Bor, Czech Republic

Nestler is a 36-year-old official of the far-right "Workers' Party for Social Justice," or DSSS, by its Czech initials. DSSS is a successor party to the neo-Nazi group Dlnick�Strana (DS), which was banned a year and a half ago by the highest Czech administrative court. One reason the court gave for the ban was that Dlnick�Strana organized rallies that led to pogrom-like riots against the Roma.

For the last several weeks, far-right extremists have been back on the offensive. They're worried �again �about the Roma minority in the Czech Republic. In a part of Bohemia called uknovsk�vk, near the border with the eastern German state of Saxony, a bitter feud is raging between ethnic Czech locals and several hundred Roma. Interior Minister Jan Kubice has sent a detachment of 250 police to the region to quell any more problems, but he's had to admit that the situation had lurched out of control.",1518,786495,00.html Evictions of Gypsies from France. Travelers evicted outside London. 

From BBC on German Evictions of Gypsies to Kosovo.


"There are an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 Irish Travelers in Britain, where they are recognized as a distinct ethnic minority by the government. Their roots - and their broad brogue - lie in Ireland, but many have been in Britain for generations.

For centuries, Travelers roamed the country's roads, finding work as itinerant laborers, scrap dealers, and horse traders.

But during the past few decades, laws limiting unauthorized camping, economic changes, and a desire to see their children educated led many to settle down - sometimes legally, on land provided by the government, and sometimes without permission."

Guardian.UK coverage of Dale Farm Eviction

English Travelers Online Newsletter

Gipsy and Traveler Liason Groups Newsletter in England

Romani Studies Site

From Gypsy Lore Society site. 

"Gypsy and Traveler Groups in the United States 

Cale: Spanish Gypsies, or Gitanos, are found primarily in the metropolitan centers of the East and West coasts. A small community of only a few families.

English Travelers: Fairly amorphous group, possibly formed along same lines as Roaders (see below), but taking shape already in England before their emigration to the US starting in early 1880s. Associate mainly with Romnichels. Boundaries and numbers uncertain.

Hungarian-Slovak: Mainly sedentary Gypsies found primarily in the industrial cities of northern U.S. Number in few thousands. Noted for playing "Gypsy music" in cafes, night clubs and restaurants.

Irish Travelers: Peripatetic group that is ethnically Irish and does not identify itself as "Gypsy," although sometimes called "Irish Gypsies." Widely scattered, but somewhat concentrated in the southern states. Estimates vary but about 10,000 should be close to the actual numbers.

Ludar: Gypsies from the Banat area, also called Rumanian Gypsies. Arrived after 1880. Have about the same number of families as the Rom, but actual numbers are unknown.

Roaders or Roadies: Native born Americans who have led a traveling life similar to that of the Gypsies and Travelers, but who were not originally descended from those groups. Numbers unknown as not all families studied.

Rom: Gypsies of East European origin who arrived after 1880. Mostly urban, they are scattered across the entire country. One of the larger groups in the US, possibly in the 55-60,000 range.

Romnichels: English Gypsies who arrived beginning in 1850. Scattered across the entire country, but tend to be somewhat more rural than the other Gypsy groups. Many families are now on their way to being assimilated, hence estimation of numbers depends on criteria used.

Scottish Travelers: Ethnically Scottish, but separated for centuries from mainstream society in Scotland where they were known as Tinkers. Some came to Canada after 1850 and to the United States in appreciable numbers after 1880. Over 100 distinct clans have been identified but total numbers not known.

Sinti: Little studied early group of German Gypsies in the United States consisting of few families heavily assimilated with both non-Gypsy and Romnichel populations. No figures are available.

Yenisch: Mostly assimilated group of ethnic Germans, misidentified as Gypsies, who formed an occupational caste of basket makers and founded an entire community in Pennsylvania after their immigration starting 1840. Because of assimilation current numbers are impossible to determine.

This inventory leaves out several Gypsy groups that have immigrated since 1970 due to the unrest and renewed persecution in Eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism. They have come from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, the former Yugoslavian area, and possibly other countries. They number in few thousands by now, but their numbers are likely to increase.

Another Roma Site.

Gypsy horse fair in Appleby England

"The police response to incidents of crime at the fair has been to adopt a heavy-handed, zero-tolerance and authoritarian approach to the event. There have been many scenes, particularly at the recent fair in 2010, where police have actually causedproblems by their over-zealous rules. For example, a number of witnesses saw a police officer ordering a pony and trap to be moved from outside a pub which the landlady had herself authorised to park there and did not want to be moved. This caused annoyance among the travellers but the police continued with their treatment."

Gypsies as con artists

From Gypsy Roma Traveler Leeds site. 

"Roma Characteristics

The following characteristics apply to the many Roma groups and communities around the world:
oma may be nomadic, semi-sedentary, or sedentary
oma may live in trailers (caravans), horse-drawn wagons (vardos), or housing
oma speak Romanes though fluency and knowledge varies according to usage
oma may live in rural or urban areas
ome Roma have not historically accessed formal education and are non-literate, while others have and achieved a great deal
ost Roma have always referred to themselves as Rom or Roma, meaning "Man" or "People." Many UK Roma, who have been here for many centuries would call themselves Gypsy or Traveller.

The Romani language has many spoken dialects, but is of Indo-Aryan origin. The root language of Romani is ancient Punjabi with loan words borrowed from the many countries the migrations of the Roma have taken them. The spoken Romani language is varied, but all dialects contain some common words in use by all Roma."

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