The Hague in discussion with organizers of Tuesday Black Lives Matter protest
The municipality in The Hague is in discussion with the organizers of a protest against police brutality and racism in the city on Tuesday evening. The demonstration has been registered and a location is still being discussed, a spokesperson for the municipality said to Omroep West.
Like a similar protest in Amsterdam on Monday, Tuesday's protest is to show solidarity with demonstrators in the United States. Thousands of Americans have taken to the streets over the past week, after the death in custody of George Floyd. Video of his arrest show a police officer kneeling on his neck for some eight minutes, while Floyd tried to tell them that he can't breathe. The man died in hospital a short time later, the latest in a series of black people killed in police violence in the US.
The protest in The Hague is organized by Black Lives Matter Netherlands. The organization wants the Dutch government to summon American ambassador Pete Hoekstra and demand that the violence against black people in the United States be ended.
The Amsterdam protest on Monday drew some 5 thousand participants, resulting in criticism on Mayor Femke Halsema for not intervening when protesters did not adhere to social distancing measures. Politicians from the VVD, CDA, PVV, D66, ChristenUnie, and FvD all said that the protesters should have at least kept 1.5 meters apart. Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus called the crowds "painful to see" for those who adhered to coronavirus measures over the past weeks.
Halsema said that the size of the protest caught the local authorities off guard. According to her, the protest grew so quickly that the only intervention possible would have been violent police intervention, and that would just have escalated matters. She does not think she made a mistake in allowing the demonstration to continue, saying that the right to demonstrate can not so easily be ignored.
In the discussions with Black Lives Matter Netherlands, the municipality of The Hague will stress that the RIVM guidelines for curbing the spread of the coronavirus will apply to this protest as well. The spokesperson could not tell Omroep West whether enforcement will be necessary. "We won't know that until the demonstration is in progress."
Black Lives Matter Netherlands called on participants to only come to the protest if it is safe for them to do so. "People who have to travel far, or who belong to a vulnerable group, are better off staying home," the organization said. "The current restrictions weigh on participant numbers, but we know that for each participant, there are dozens of others supporting the movement in mind."
Facebook event initially said that the protest will be held on Koekamp, but it was later moved to the Malieveld. It starts at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday.