Witness to an Act of Violence

They are all around us, but usually we don't pay attention. They are the gypsies, or as known here, the Roma. They clean the streets (in orange uniforms, when they are employed by the municipality) and they search through the garbage bins (where they are searching for themselves). They beg at street corners and in the middle of the streets, interrupting traffic. They are all around us, but usually, we hardly see them.

Last Saturday I (Ellis) took a walk through a small park alongside Cherni Vrakh Boulevard, a main street of the city being torn open for a new Metro line. There were three middle-aged gypsies, two men and a woman, sitting on a park bench, apparently enjoying their lunch, accompanied by beer.

Along came a tall Bulgarian man, probably in his twenties, and started shouting angrily at the gypsies. The one word I completely understood was "Haide", (Hurry up), as the man was forcing the gypsies to leave the bench, and the park.

The gypsy woman and one of the men hurried down the path, but they left the papers and beer bottles from their lunch on the ground around the bench. The third man was about to escape as well, but the Bulgarian called him back and made him pick up the litter (well, this is the good part of the story).

As the third gypsy started to walk away, the Bulgarian started kicking him. The kicks, accompanied by shouts which I couldn't begin to understand, became more and more violent. Finally, one kick landed smack in the gypsy's back, and he went sprawling onto the pavement. The gypsy picked himself up, without comment or fighting back, and limped away. The Bulgarian man who had driven them from the park, turned around, and was hugged by one of his friends.

I walked away, amazed at this act of violence against these gypsies.


  1. Very saddening. In Spain, Gilat and I were often aware of the strong gypsy community there. Hostility toward them in certain areas of Europe seems to be as enduring as it is against the Jews.

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