Amsterdam climate blockades end with 90 arrests

Climate protest by Extinction Rebellion on Stadhouderskade in Amsterdam, 7 October 2019
Climate protest by Extinction Rebellion on Stadhouderskade in Amsterdam, 7 October 2019. (Photo: NL Times)

Update 1:25 p.m. - All climate activists arrested on Monday have now been released, the police said on Tuesday. A few dozen protesters gathered in Vondelpark on Tuesday to continue demonstrating for more effective climate policy, according to NOS. 

Blockade protests for more action against climate change on Stadhouderskade and elsewhere in Amsterdam on Monday ended at around 9:00 p.m., the Amsterdam police said on Twitter. A total of around 90 people were arrested, around 30 of whom were still in custody on Monday night. The rest were sent home with a fine of 380 euros for not following police orders. On Tuesday the protesters are planning a demonstration in Vondelpark, they said on Twitter. 

Around a thousand protesters from action group Extinction Rebellion gathered on Stadhouderskade, at the Rijksmuseum, from around 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning to demonstrate for a more effective climate policy. The municipality did not approve this blockade on an important Amsterdam thoroughfare, and the police started calling on protesters to move to a designated area on Museumplein on the other side of the Rijksmuseum shortly after the protest started. Some gave heed, but by far not all protesters.

The demonstrators lay on the ground, arms linked. One protesters glued his hand to the road, according to NOS. The police freed him. At around 10:00 a.m. another group of around 200 protesters showed up a bit further down the road, to form a new "front", according to NU.nl. Both groups of protesters formed a line across the road. They danced, sang, a drum band played, and they did yoga in the street. Other spontaneous protests also popped up elsewhere in the city - including protesters playing dead on Dam Square. 

Up until 3:00 p.m., the police removed around 10 protesters from Stadhouderskade per hour. At around 4:00 p.m. Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema issued an emergency ordnance to arrest the protesters who would not leave voluntarily. After that, police officers put real effort into ending the demonstration. By the end of the day, around 390 protesters were moved to other, out-of-the-way areas of the city, where they could continue their protest. 

"The situation at the scene is fairly calm because the demonstrators are non-violent", a police spokesperson told NU.nl. There were no significant incidents. "On the one hand, we want to facilitate the right to demonstrate, on the other hand, blocking the street is not allowed and we want to prevent life in the city being stopped for too long."

The demonstration on Monday was a joint initiative that took place in multiple countries. Hundreds of activists also took action in London, Berlin and Paris, among others. In these cities, dozens of activists were also arrested on Monday morning.

Extinction Rebellion wants the Dutch government to tell the truth about climate change, they said to NU.nl. According to the demonstrators, The Hague won't admit that "we are in a climate emergency". The group wants CO2 emissions in the Netherlands to be reduced to zero within five years, instead of the government's goal of a 49 percent reduction compared to 1990 by 2030 and a 100 percent reduction within 30 years. They also want a "Citizen's Chamber" to ensure that a "Delta Plan for Climate" is introduced and that these plans are actually implemented.

Extinction Rebellion will continue protesting for the climate. The municipality of Amsterdam is therefore preparing for more actions in the coming days, according to NOS. 

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