Demonstrations against health restrictions turned into riot again on Saturday night in the Netherlands, especially in The Hague where several police officers were injured in clashes with demonstrators, the day after an “orgy of violence” in Rotterdam (South West).
In The Hague, the city where the Dutch government is based, police officers in riot gear charged groups of demonstrators who threw stones and various objects at them in a working-class neighborhood, and used a water cannon to extinguish bicycles in traffic light at a busy intersection. Five police officers were injured and at least seven people arrested.
Violence also broke out in Urk, a small Protestant town in the center of the country, and in several localities in the province of Limburg (south). Two football matches were also interrupted for several minutes in Alkmaar (west) and Almelo (east) by supporters frustrated by the closed session imposed as part of the fight against Covid, according to local media.
Friday evening, a demonstration had already turned into chaos in the center of Rotterdam, with three protesters injured by police fire and 51 people arrested.
The Netherlands reintroduced partial containment last week to cope with an outbreak of Covid-19 cases, with a series of health restrictions affecting in particular the restaurant sector, which is due to close at 8:00 p.m.
The government is now planning to ban certain places for the unvaccinated, including bars and restaurants in an attempt to stem the tide of contamination. More than 21,000 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the Netherlands on Friday.
– “They are angry” –
“People are protesting against the confinement and the 2G” which allows the only vaccinated (“geimpft”) and cured (“genesene”) to access certain public places, told AFP Ferdi Yilmaz, owner of a pizzeria in The Hague.
“They are angry,” he added, accusing police officers of dragging several people out of his shop, breaking the glass on the front door and hitting him on the hand “for no reason.” .
Police arrested several people in the popular Schilderswijk district of The Hague, where AFP journalists saw plainclothes officers drag a woman out of a car.
Five police officers were injured, one of whom was taken to hospital with a concussion and two suffered hearing damage from the noise of the fireworks, The Hague police said in a statement.
An ambulance carrying a patient had its window shattered by a stone throw, police added.
Saturday at the start of the day, the demonstrations had nevertheless started calmly in several cities of the country, such as Amsterdam or Breda (south) where a thousand people marched carrying signs saying “No to confinement”.
The demonstration in Breda even looked like a party, the participants dancing following floats with DJs, “party buses” bringing up the rear, noted an AFP journalist.
Smoke bombs were used and some fireworks were fired as the last participants dispersed.
“People want to live (…) that’s why we are here,” Joost Eras, one of the organizers, told AFP. But “we are not rioters. Here, we are at peace,” he said, distancing himself from the nocturnal chaos that had erupted the day before in Rotterdam.
– ‘Orgy of violence’ –
Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb called Friday’s incidents an “orgy of violence”.
“Three rioters were injured when they were hit by a bullet. They are still in hospital,” Dutch police said, adding that an investigation would be carried out to determine “whether the wounds were caused by bullets. of the police “.
A total of seven people, including police officers, were injured in the Rotterdam violence
Of the 50 or so people arrested, half were minors and the rioters came from different parts of the country, said police, who were still looking for other suspects.
Earlier today, Dutch police said they fired “warning shots on several occasions” but “at one point the situation became so dangerous that officers felt compelled to shoot at targets,” he said. she added.
“The police and the prosecution are doing everything to track down, prosecute and punish these rioters,” said in a statement Ferd Grapperhaus, Minister of Security and Justice, deploring the “considerable” destruction.