Thousands of people, some throwing fireworks and stones, joined an unauthorized protest against the Dutch government’s coronovirus restrictions in Amsterdam on Sunday, and riot police officers resorted to water cannons, batons, to disperse the crowd. Used attack dogs and horses.
According to local media, around a hundred people were arrested.
The protest came two days after the resignation of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet when a Dutch tax official treated innocent people involved in a child-benefit scandal.
Demonstrators gathered on a central square with landmarks including the Van Gogh Museum and the American Consulate, and waved placards saying “dictatorship,” “freedom” and “we are the Netherlands”.
The video showed that no one was wearing a mask – although it is not mandatory in the open air in the Netherlands – and that no one maintained social distance, one of the key health measures advised by Dutch authorities.
Like most of Europe, the Netherlands is in lockdown, in its case at least until February. 9. Infection is high but falling slightly, with about 34 coronovirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Those opposing the epidemic ban are relatively small but vociferously coterminous with groups and individuals, and have targeted Mr Rutte and his policies as well as established media organizations. Like Trump’s loyalists, who attacked the United States Capitol, they believe the system needs to be overthrown.
“These people live with their truth, their news and their reality,” said Hans Nijenhuis, editor of The Algmin Dagblad, the Netherlands’ largest circulation newspaper. “As we have seen in the states, we cannot ignore their discontent.”
An application for Sunday’s protest by Michelle Reijinga, which gathered supporters on Facebook, was turned down by authorities, who cited the prohibition of all gatherings to prevent the spread of coronovirus.
Despite this, thousands of people gathered in the Museplin category, excitement The Mayor of Amsterdam, the police and the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service to send in the riot police.
There have been many protests against lockout and other epidemic measures in the Netherlands, but others have also come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Sunday, some protesters spoke with desperation about the restrictions.
“We want to party and go to clubs, we are so tired of all these measures,” a younger woman can be heard saying on Livstream, a new Dutch broadcaster, Ongheord Netherlands.
The channel, which describes itself as providing a “patriotic angle to the news”, recently gained access to subsidies on Dutch public television by signing up 60,000 people as paid members.
The channel’s managing director, Arnold Karskens, said, “Traditional media is saying that these people are silly and paranoid, but such a display is a sign of widespread dissatisfaction.”
Mr Karkens, who has also opposed a ban on Black Pete, a controversial Dutch traditionalist, said: “The truth is that people are tired of coronovirus measures. They feel that there is no end. “