Amsterdam mourns death of Mayor Van der Laan

Police and reporters gather outside mayor's residence on Herengracht in Amsterdam, 6 Oct 2017
Police and reporters gather outside mayor's residence on Herengracht in Amsterdam, 6 Oct 2017Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

The entire Amsterdam is in mourning after the death of Mayor Eberhard van der Laan on Thursday. The flag outside his official residence on Herengracht is hanging half mast and local residents are leaving flowers outside his door, Het Parool reports.

The municipality of Amsterdam opened an online condolence register for the mayor. Dozens of people already left a message there. "The city will miss you", "A great loss for the city of Amsterdam!" and "If I knew that I was going to hear him speak, I was always happy", are some of the messages left on the register. A register on - opened at the request of many Amsterdammers and other Dutch, according to the site - also already has over 100 messages on it.

The Wester church will open its doors at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, for people who want to come light a candle for the mayor. The church will also be open from 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.

At 12:30 p.m. on Friday, homeless choir De Straatklinkers will pay tribute to Van der Laan in the practice room of the parish on Nieuwe Herengracht.

NPO will rebroadcast Van der Laan's interview on Zomergasten, filmed in July, on Saturday. The interview will show from 10:30 p.m. on NPO 2. 

The Amsterdam Museum will exhibit a painting of Van der Laan called Damsko Strijder from today, to pay tribute to the mayor. The painting was made by street art collective Kamp Seedorf. 

The players of Jong Ajax will play their match against Jong Utrecht tonight wearing black ribbons on their arms, Ajax announced. There will also be a minute of silence at De Toekomst sports park. 

Two festive openings - one for Ferdinand Bolstraat and one for the smallest police station in the Netherlands - scheduled for today, were both canceled. "We don't find it appropriate to celebrate at this moment", the organizers for Ferdinand Bolstraat said to Het Parool. 

"We are deeply touched and immensely saddened by the passing of Mayor Eberhard van der Laan", Richard Zijlma, general manager of the Amsterdam Dance Event, wrote on the ADE website. "Throughout the years he has been an incredible ambassador for Amsterdam in general and for us and for the Amsterdam Dance Event in particular. He has always been there for us, in difficult times he stood in front of, next to and behind ADE. Critical but fair."

"To us this is terrible. Without him, the office wouldn't have existed. We are devastated", Chris van Dijk of law firm Kennedy Van der Laan, said to Het Parool. Van der Laan and Van Dijk co-founded the firm. "I knew him for 27 years. He was quite a personality, a passionate lawyer who brought the best out of himself and others. Warm and humorous. A socially driven person, he did not go for the money, but for social connection."

"All is well and we're driving, but in our thoughts we stand still for you, the sweetest and most courageous mayor of Amsterdam", Amsterdam public transit company GVB wrote in a reaction.

It's not only Amsterdam that's in mourning. People, companies and politicians across the country expressed their sadness and condolences. Prime Minister Mark Rutte ordered that flags be hung half mast across the country.

"A sad day for the family of Eberhard, a sad day for all Amsterdammers and a sad day for me personally", Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said in a statement, according to Het Parool. "We knew each other for a long time and have been fellow mayors for seven years. Amsterdam loses a sweet mayor and the Netherlands loses an expert and binding director. Eberhard was the inventor of the concept of 'the responsible capital', through which he shared his astute insights with anyone who needed his support, also outside Amsterdam. Also with me, and I am grateful to him. With his life story, knowledge and experience the post of mayor was written for him, but above all he was an amiable man. I wish his family all the strength in dealing with this loss."

Chief prosecutor at the Public Prosecution Theo Hofstee described Van der Laan as "a man with a big heart", according to Het Parool. 

We lost a great man today, according to KLM CEO Pieter Elbers. "Eberhard was always willing to help and support KLM where possible and on many occasions we worked together. His death is a great loss for Amsterdam, also home to many KLM'ers. Also personally I look back warmly at the moments we met and had a good conversation with humor, respect and recognition."