Hague mayor admits police racism, Chief breaks down over fatal arrest

The Hague Mayor Jozias van Aartsen admitted that there is racism in his city's police force. He said this on Wednesday during a debate in the City Council regarding the death of Aruban man Mitch Henriquez and the subsequent riots in Schilderswijk. Up until now, the Mayor has always denied the existence of racism in the police.

"Is there racism and wrong violence in the corps?" Van Aartsen asked himself, Den Haag FM reports. "The answer is yes. Is the corps leadership aware of this? Yes."

Police Chief Paul Musscher also addressed the Council. He agreed with Van Aartsen, adding that officers guilty of discrimination and ethnic profiling should not be working for the police. He also spoke of the death of Mitch Henriquez, becoming visibly upset.

"I understand the emotions that it evokes. Also with me, as you can see." the police chief said. "I also understand that people want to express their emotions.But the way that happened in Schilderswijk can not be."

Mitch Henriquez passed away a day after being arrested at the Night at the Park music festival in the city late last month. The autopsy on his body revealed that the cause of his death was likely suffocation, which may have been caused by officers using a chokehold on him during the arrest.

Henriquez death greatly affected the community in The Hague, in Schilderswijk in particular. Four consecutive days of unrest and riots in the neighborhood followed his death. More than 200 people were arrested following the riots. A number of them will be appearing in court next week.

Mayor Van Aartsen also announced during the debate that the Inspectorate for Security and Justice will be investigating the use of the chokehold by police officers. A spokesperson for Minister Ard van der Steur confirmed this later on Wednesday.