Two arrests after Rotterdam Black Lives Matter protest was ended
There was some unrest in Rotterdam on Wednesday evening after the local authorities ended a demonstration against racist police brutality about half an hour before it was scheduled to end. The police had to intervene in a few incidents of vandalism. Two people were arrested, one for throwing a firework at a police officer, RTL Nieuws reports.
The demonstration was stopped about 15 minutes early because protesters were not maintaining social distancing, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said to RTV Rijmond afterwards. The organizers of the demonstration called on protesters to keep 1.5 meters apart, a message which was repeated by police using drone-mounted speakers. Officials said they were unsuccessful, though some protest organizers disagreed.
The protest started well, but when the speeches started especially the area around the stage became increasingly crowded, according to the mayor. Maintaining social distancing was one of the conditions for allowing the demonstration, Aboutaleb said. "If that is massively violated, we will intervene and that is what happened," the mayor said. "The organization tried very hard, but failed to maintain distance."
Aboutaleb estimated that around 5 thousand protesters participated in the demonstration, sparked by a large number of black people being killed in police violence in the United States. The demonstration was moved to the Erasmus Bridge beforehand, in anticipation of the large turnout. "From the outset we made available the largest possible urban space imaginable in the city. The bridge and its immediate surroundings can accommodate thousands of people and we also took those numbers into account," Aboutaleb said.
Aboutaleb sees on reason to approach new requests for demonstrations in a different way after Wednesday's events, he said. "Each demonstration is a new request and we will review it again."