Riots in the Hague after Aruban dies in police custody

Protest in The Hague against police brutality after Mitch Henriquez' death in police custody (Picture: Twitter/@afadenhaag)Protest in The Hague against police brutality after Mitch Henriquez' death in police custody (Picture: Twitter/@afadenhaag)

A demonstration against police violence in Schilderswijk, The Hague on Monday night got out of hand. The demonstration followed the death of Mitch Henriquez, a 42 year old Aruban man who died on Sunday in hospital after being arrested at a music festival in the city on Saturday.

The protest started fairly quietly around 8:00 p.m. on Monday night, the Volkskrant reports. Around 500 people had gathered to protest. They waved flags, handed out pamphlets and wore T-shirts with slogans like I love ArubaStop police violence  and Unreliable ministry on them. They also carried a banner reading "against police brutality, racism". The protesters shouted a number of slogans, including "Police murderers!"

Things started getting out of hand just after 9:00 p.m., when the police refused to start a conversation with the crowd outside the police station, according to NOS. Protesters walked to the side of the station and threatened a small group of police officers. Stones and other objects were thrown at the officers and the riot police stepped in, using a water canon and police dogs.

After this the protesters dispersed into the neighborhood. Some of them went to the nearby Hague Market, where they threw out windows and set of fireworks. The riot police were pelted with stones and insulted. At the corner of Heemstraat and Hoefkade the protesters set fire to a container, a portable toilet and a construction trailer, the Telegraaf reports. The protesters also threw furniture at the officers and built barricades across the full width of Hemstraat.

"Tonight everyone has the same goal. Here there are Dutch, Turks, Moroccans and Arubans. It does not matter. If the police come at one of us, the come at all of us", one young man said to the Telegraaf. "I'm not an Aruban, but that does not matter. He was just one of us" According to the protesters, there is no doubt that the arresting officers used too much violence in Henriquez' arrest.

By 1:15 a.m. there were still dozens of people on Hobbemaplein, including a number of police officers. A police helicopter still circled above the neighborhood. Rest only returned to the Hague neighborhood around 3:30 on Tuesday morning. A police spokesperson told the Telegraaf that there were still people on the street, but much fewer signals of disturbances were received in the last hour.

In a statement The Hague mayor Jozias van Aartsen said that he understands the protesters' anger and frustration, but he disapproves of the violence. He will await further investigation before drawing conclusions.


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