Black Lives Matter protest organized in Amsterdam

Mural showing the portrait of George Floyd in Berlin, 31 May 2020
Mural showing the portrait of George Floyd in Berlin, 31 May 2020SinglespeedfahrerWikimedia CommonsCC-0

A demonstration will be held in Amsterdam on Monday afternoon to show solidarity with the people protesting against anti-black violence in the United States. The protest will also draw attention to institutional racism in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, the organizers said on Facebook. Demonstrators are called to make sure they adhere to the measures in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The protest is scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m. om Dam Square. The US Embassy and Consulate also said that a demonstration is planned at the US Consulate General building on the Museumplein in Amsterdam starting at 2:00 p.m. on Monday. 

Since the death of George Floyd in the United States on May 25, there have been multiple Black Lives Matter protests throughout the US. Video of Floyd's arrest surfaced online, showing a police officer kneeling on the black man's throat for minutes while Floyd told them that he can't breathe. He died in hospital a short time later. Floyd's death was the latest in a line of black people killed in police violence in the United States. 

The protest on Dam Square on Monday will "show solidarity with the movement in the US and against anti-black violence in the Netherlands". Other protests will be arranged in other Dutch cities throughout the week, including a demonstration in The Hague on Tuesday, the organizers said.

The organizers mentioned a number of incidents in the Netherlands, including the fatal arrest of Mitch Henriquez at a music festival in The Hague on 28 June 2015. Two police officers involved in this arrest were eventually given suspended prison sentences for assault with death as result, which they appealed against. In the appeal, one cop was acquitted and the other again given a suspended sentence. 

Other incidents mentioned include the Tax Authority using second nationality as a selection criteria to check people or fraud, studies showing discrimination on the labor market, and the response to protests organized by Kick Out Zwarte Piet - including mass arrests in Gouda in 2014 and Rotterdam in 2016. "In the years after, there were repeated transgressions against anti-black-Pete protesters, both by the police and pro-Pete defenders. The attack against the national manifestation by KOZP was a low point in Dutch democracy and the pretense of equal rights for black people," the organizers said.

June 1 marks the start of the annual Keti Koti month in the Netherlands. Keti Koti day on July 1 marks the abolition of slavery in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles. Because of the coronavirus, the usual opening of Keti Koti month on Dam Square had to be canceled. "Due to the current uprising of worldwide anti-black racism we still invite you to join a protest action on this important day. We call all people to show solidarity with the protesters in the USA and to take a stand against institutional racism in the Netherlands and Europe," the organizers said.

This demonstration will be held with social distancing measures in mind, to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus. "We call for all participants to wear a mask or face protection and maintain 1.5 meter distance at all times. If you have any symptoms, stay home!" People who are in coronavirus risk groups are called to follow the demonstration from home. 

Regarding the protest at the US Consulate, the American Embassy said in a statement: "U.S. government personnel and U.S. citizens are advised to avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings protests or demonstrations. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can quickly turn confrontational and escalate into violence. The Dutch police will be present to ensure public safety."

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