Dutch Riot Over COVID Restrictions on a second night; 7 arrested


Police arrested seven rioters in The Hague on Saturday evening after young people started fires in the streets and threw fireworks at police officers. The unrest came a day after police opened fire on protesters in Rotterdam amid what the port city’s mayor called “an orgy of violence” that erupted during a protest against restrictions on coronaviruses.

Elsewhere in the Netherlands, two football matches in the top professional league had to be briefly interrupted after fans – banned from matches under a partial lockdown in effect in the Netherlands for a week – broke into the clubs. stadiums in the cities of Alkmaar and Almelo.

Police said via Twitter that seven people were arrested in The Hague and five police officers were injured. One needed treatment in a hospital.

Local media Regio 15 reported that rioters threw bicycles, wooden pallets and motorized scooters at one of the fires.

The riots in The Hague were on a smaller scale than the battles in the streets of Rotterdam on Friday evening, when police said three rioters were hit by bullets and investigations were underway to establish whether they had been shot dead by the police. Previously, police said two people were affected. The condition of the injured rioters was not disclosed.

Rotterdam officers have arrested 51 people, about half of whom are minors, police said on Saturday afternoon. One policeman was hospitalized with a leg injury sustained in the riots, another was treated by paramedics and countless others sustained minor injuries.

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told reporters in the early hours of Saturday that “on several occasions police found it necessary to draw their weapons in self-defense” as rioters raged in the port city’s central shopping district, lighting up fires and throwing stones and fireworks at officers.

“They shot at protesters, people were injured,” Aboutaleb said. He did not have details of the injuries. The police also fired warning shots.

Police combing security camera footage expect to make further arrests.

Photos from the scene showed at least one police car on fire and another with a bicycle hit by its windshield.

Riot police and a water cannon restored calm after midnight.

It was one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the Netherlands since coronavirus restrictions were first imposed last year. In January, rioters also attacked police and set the streets of Rotterdam on fire after a curfew came into effect.

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus condemned the events.

“The riots and extreme violence against police, riot police and firefighters last night in Rotterdam are disgusting to see,” he said in a statement.

“Demonstrating is a great right in our society, but what we saw last night is just criminal behavior. It has nothing to do with demonstrating,” he added.

Police units from across the country rushed to Rotterdam to help bring the situation on Friday night under control. Aboutaleb said football hooligan gangs were involved in the riots.

An independent investigation into the police shootings has been opened, as is the case every time the Dutch police use their weapons.

The government has said it wants to introduce a law that would allow companies to restrict the country’s coronavirus pass system to only people who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19 – which would exclude people whose test is negative.

Earlier on Saturday, two protests against COVID-19 measures took place peacefully in Amsterdam and the southern city of Breda.

Thousands of people gathered in the central Dam Square in Amsterdam, despite the cancellation of the protest by the organizers. They walked peacefully through the streets, closely watched by the police. A few hundred people also marched in the city of Breda, in the south of the Netherlands. An organizer, Joost Eras, told broadcaster NOS that he did not expect violence after consulting the police.

“We certainly do not support what happened in Rotterdam. We were shocked,” he said.

The country has seen a record number of infections in recent days and a new partial lockdown went into effect a week ago.

Local political party Leefbaar Rotterdam condemned the violence in a tweet.

“The center of our beautiful city has turned into a war zone tonight,” he said. “Rotterdam is a city where you can disagree with the things that are happening, but violence is never, ever, the solution. ”

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