Rotterdam anti-racism protest moved to Erasmus Bridge; More space for more demonstrators

Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam
Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdamvichie81DepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb decided to move a demonstration against racism and police brutality on Wednesday to the Erasmus Bridge, in order to be able to accommodate more protesters. The municipality granted permission for a demonstration from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Glitterplein, the pedestrian area of the Erasmus Bridge and Wilhelminaplein, Aboutaleb said to Rijnmond.

"I made them an offer to use the most beautiful thing the city has: the Erasmus Bridge," Aboutaleb said. Many people can spread out along the railing of the bridge. "If that is still too tight, you can expand to the Boompjes towards the Willemsbrug. If that is not enough, you can take the south side. That way you can have a lot of people, a meter and a half apart." 

This will be the fourth Black Lives Matter protest in the Netherlands to show solidarity for the people protesting anti-black violence in the United States following George Floyd's death in police custody last week. A protest in Amsterdam drew some 5 thousand people, who crowded Dam Square without adhering to social distancing measures. This resulted in criticism on Mayor Femke Halsema. The second protest in The Hague on Tuesday also drew thousands of people, but they managed to keep 1.5 meters apart. There was  also a protest in Groningen that happened without a hitch.

The Rotterdam protest was first set to be held on Schouburgplein, but Aboutaleb said that the square could not hold more than 80 people keeping 1.5 meters apart. He therefore proposed moving the protest to the Erasmus Bridge instead. According to him, the organizers liked this plan. Aboutaleb will not set a number limit to the protesters. "In this place we can receive up to a few thousand people. If there's more, we will have to stand by the routes to send people away."

There will be a big police presence in Rotterdam on Wednesday, Aboutaleb said. "That is mainly from the point of view of welcoming people. The right to demonstrate is an important right for everyone." The police's main role will be receiving protesters, making the rules clear, and guiding people towards where they have to go. "There will be no riot police, that is not necessary. But a good police organization is always prepared for the worst."