‘Orgy of violence’ in the Netherlands as police and COVID protesters clash

The past weekend saw one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the Netherlands since COVID-19 measures were introduced last year

Photo: OPEN Rotterdam
Photo: OPEN Rotterdam

Three people are being treated in Rotterdam’s hospital after police and rioters clashed over the weekend during a demonstration against COVID-19 restrictions.

Crowds of rioters set fire to cars and threw rocks at police during protests on Friday evening. This was met with warning shots from the police, who eventually opened fire on the rioters once the crowd failed to disperse.

The mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, dubbed the incident an “orgy of violence”. He told the press on Saturday morning that police shot at protestors as they felt it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves. As a result, several protestors were injured.

DutchNews.nl reports that rioters, police officers, and a journalist are among those injured. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that three people were being treated in the Dutch city’s hospital after they were hit by bullets.

Local police said on Twitter that 51 people were arrested on Saturday in connection to the riots. Half of these were under 18.

Police are expected to arrest more people after reviewing CCTV footage from the area.

On Saturday evening, demonstrators in The Hague similarly pelted police with stones and fireworks, while police used a water cannon to put out fires.

Five officers were injured in The Hague, while 19 people were arrested. One of them was arrested for throwing a rock at the windshield of a moving ambulance.

The past weekend saw one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the Netherlands since COVID-19 measures were first introduced last year.

The Dutch justice minister condemned the events, describing the past nights as “criminal behaviour”.

The incidents come one week after the Dutch government ordered a partial lockdown amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Bars, restaurants and supermarkets must close at 8pm, while people are being urged to work from home wherever possible.

Professional sports matches must be played in empty stadiums, while stores selling non-essential items have to close at 6pm.

Despite the measures, daily infections remain at their highest levels, with the Dutch government considering banning unvaccinated people from entering venues.

Protestors across Europe are taking to the streets to show their anger against new restrictions and vaccine mandates. In Croatia, thousands marched through the capital Zagreb against mandatory vaccinations for public sector workers. Meanwhile in Italy, protestors gathered in Rome to oppose "green pass" certificates required at workplaces, venues, and on public transport.

READ ALSO122 new COVID cases registered, hospitalisations remain stable