Public shows support for father attacked on central Tartu street in early March (14)
Approximately one hundred people gathered in a show of support on Friday at the site of an incident where, a week prior, the father of a young child was physically attacked in front of his three-year-old son on a central Tartu street after attempting to call a group of vandals to order.
On the evening of Friday, March 11, approximately one hundred people had gathered on Küüni Street and the adjacent park. A police patrol was also on location as a precautionary measure, and a patrol car drove past nearby as well. Cameras from at least three different news agencies were noted on the scene, and Urmas Klaas, the mayor of Tartu, joined the crowd, giving a couple of interviews on the matter as well.
Shortly before 8 p.m. on Friday, March 4, a 32-year-old father identified simply as Jaanus and his three-year-old son were leaving the supermarket in a shopping center on Küüni Street when the father called on a group of young men in front of the building to pick up a garbage can which they had knocked over. The group responded by physically attacking Jaanus, knocking him to the ground, and kicking him in the face hard enough that the man required medical attention.
A witness called the police, who received the emergency call at approximately 7:50 p.m. As a result, police were able to quickly arrest two suspects in relation to the attack; one of the two men remains in police custody, while the other has been sent to prison for a previous crime. According to Tartu police chief Veiko Järva, police have since been able to identify other witnesses to the crime as well.
The incident has received widespread attention in Estonian media, including at a national level, and responses to the attack have been uniform in their support. Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur called Jaanus to thank him personally for his courage and ask him how he was healing after the attack. The minister also issued Jaanus an official letter of appreciation on for the exceptional courage, sense of justice, and decisive action in response to vandalism, and Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas stressed in an administration press conference on Thursday that this incident must be taken very seriously.
Friday’s public gathering at the scene of the crime, was organized by Ragnar Saage, an alumnus of the University of Tartu, was advertised in advance in the media; approximately 100 people came out to show their support exactly one week after the event. On Saturday, Jaanus was also presented with a 135-page book of the printed well-wishes of thousands of people across the country, which were gathered via online form over the course of a 24-hour period.
As the police investigation into the attack continues, Jaanus remains at home healing from injuries sustained in the attack, in good spirits and grateful for the ongoing outpouring of support. Both he and his three-year-old son have already met with a psychologist, and according to reports the son has been coping with the incident well.
The full text of the book of well-wishes, titled "The Thanks of a Thousand Citizens of Tartu" has been made publicly available online (link in Estonian).