Business as usual in Amsterdam neighborhood after explosion at coffeeshop
As rush hour came to a close Monday morning in the Dapperbuurt, the Amsterdam Oost neighborhood largely felt like it had returned to business as usual. With smiles on their faces, the regulars streamed into Cafe Kuijper for their 9 a.m. coffee even as renovation crews were hard at work repairing the damage in the neighborhood from a weekend explosion.
The blast happened at around 5:10 a.m. on Sunday in front of the Smoke Palace, a local coffeeshop that was also targeted in an attack in mid January. NL Times screened security camera footage from one local business that showed a sudden burst of light, followed seconds later by large clouds of smoke that reduced visibility to nil.
While many said it was scary at the time, the local residents and business owners seemed to feel like the apparent bombing was more of an irritant than terrifying.
“Yeah, its annoying. It doesn’t make me afraid; there seems to be a lot of violence in the soft drugs trade,” said area resident Anne-Marieke Samson. “It’s a bit frightening, but it’s a separate world that doesn’t involve you.”
She said she was at home at the time of the incident but she had not heard the blast when it took place.
Dirkje is a server in the Cafe Kuijper, and was finishing setting up the terrace and opening up the cozy cafe for her customers. Just two doors down from the Smoke Palace, the restaurant had no visible damage unlike the neighboring pharmacy.
The former Dapperbuurt resident was friendly and jovial with her clientele, and moved around the bar and seating area completely unaffected by the weekend incident. What bothered her most, she said, is that this time the explosive was left closer to the sidewalk where innocent passers-by were much more likely to be injured.
For that reason alone she said it was a bit frightening. She added that she would like to see access to drugs in The Netherlands become more legalized and regulated in the hope it would cut down on the violence and extortion practices that affect higher-risk businesses like coffeeshops.
“That’s why you should actually legalize any drug,” she said. “Weed not being legal just doesn’t make any sense. That never killed anyone, but the bombs may.”
Local resident Erhan was live on streaming service Twitch when the explosion happened. His viewers therefore heard the blast on his channel Padisha. "It was indeed a weird time to stream, but it was for my American viewer base", he explained to local broadcaster AT5. Erhan nearly had a heart attack when the blast happened. "It was extremely loud. When I looked outside, I saw smoke from the coffee shop."
The sound of the blast can clearly be heard on Pardisha's stream. A woman can be heard asking if he's okay. "I'm scared", she said afterwards. "My viewers were shocked", Erhan said to AT5. He went outside and filmed the damage and the first police cars arriving. That video can be seen at the bottom of this article.
“I can imagine it must be scary for [expats], but I grew up here. I was born in the center, in the Red Light District. There were always a lot of junkies, and violence,” Samson said, when explaining why the incident did not have an impact on her.
Across the street, two different repairmen were removing shards of shattered plate glass from a storefront and preparing to re-install new window panes. Next to the Smoke Palace, a crew was assessing how to fix the doorway of an apartment building that was blown out over the weekend.
“I don’t know, maybe I got too used to it,” she added with a laugh before cycling away.