Farmers end overnight protest with breakfast in The Hague; may march along the Ministries

Tractors leaving Den Haag after a farmers' protest, 16 Oct 2019
Tractors leaving Den Haag after a farmers' protest, 16 Oct 2019Photo: Rijkswaterstaat

Around two thousand farmers spent the night in The Hague after a major protest on Wednesday, according to estimates from Farmers Defense Force (FDF), the organizer behind the protest. They slept in caravans, tents or their tractors and ended the overnight protest with a breakfast. Around 300 Hague residents, farmers and journalists attended the breakfast, NOS reports.

The farmers planned to march along the Ministries on Thursday morning, but that might not happen. According to FDF, the municipality won't allow the farmers to march with their tractors, and many do not want to do it on foot. "That is a real shame, because we wanted to leave the city together immediately afterwards. Now everyone has to leave the city with his tractor and then the chance of a mess increases", FDF spokesperson Sieta van Keimpema said to the broadcaster.

A police spokesperson said that the police are currently in discussion with the FDF and authorities about how the farmers will march along the ministries and then leave the city.

Between 20 thousand and 25 thousand farmers came to The Hague on around 10 thousand tractors on Wednesday, according to NU.nl. They came to protest against new measures against nitrogen emissions taken by the government and provinces. The procession of tractors caused major traffic problems, forcing the police to close down the A12 highway for some time. The police ordered farmers to park their tractors at the Cars Jeans Stadium after the designated parking on the Malieveld was full, but many farmers ignored this and forced their way into the city center.

A total of four protesters were arrested throughout the day - two for throwing fireworks, one for insulting a police officer, and one for not following police orders. 

A 71-year-old man was seriously injured during the protest. A police bus hit a waste container, which hit the man standing behind it, the police said in a statement on Thursday morning. The man was crushed by the container. Eyewitnesses told Omroep West that a large crane was used to free the man. He was rushed to hospital with serious injuries. The police are investigating how this accident happened.

The FDF is "completely satisfied" with Wednesday's protest, spokesperson Jeroen van Maanen said to NOS. According to him, four arrests out of thousands of protesters show that most of the farmers behaved themselves well. The FDF thinks that the arrest for refusing to follow police orders may have to do with unclear police instructions. 

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