Thousands attend BLM protests in Tilburg, Eindhoven; New Amsterdam event announced

Thousands in Amsterdam turn out in support of Black Lives Matter after the death of George Floyd in America. June 1, 2020
Thousands in Amsterdam turn out in support of Black Lives Matter after the death of George Floyd in America. June 1, 2020NL Times / Byron MühlbergNL Times

Update: About 1,700 people attended the protest in Eindhoven, a thousand more than the city planned to allow. Mayor John Jorritsma told media outlets on site that the city had prepared for the possibility that the the event would attract more people than officials and organizers had anticipated. Overflow areas were set up to respect physical distancing requirements while ensuring that the demonstration could continue uninterrupted. The protest concluded without incident.

On the same day in which demonstrations against institutionalized racism and violence against people of color drew hundreds of people in Tilburg and Eindhoven, another demonstration was announced for next week in Amsterdam. To comply with Covid-19 guidelines, organizers are urging demonstrators to be mindful of social distancing, and to wear masks while in attendance.

A silent protest on the Schouwburgring in Tilburg, which kicked off at 2 p.m., brought in about a thousand people, though a maximum had been set at 500. Police said the event went smoothly, and people maintained their distance with no need for official intervention. Unlike in previous demonstrations, the protestors in Tilburg were not addressed by any speakers after the municipality barred an event podium from being set up in an effort to avoid crowding, local news service Omroep Brabant reported.

One protestor attending the event told the broadcaster, "It is now time for a change."  The Oosterhout woman added, "It is great that there are so many people with the same goal, and not just one nationality, because the public is very diverse."

A young Tilburg man who self-identified as being half-Asian wanted the greater public to take note that despite their misconceptions, discrimination happens with unnerving frequency. "Racism is everywhere. It has been denied too long. For generations. I hope this will ensure that the next generation has an easier time than the previous one," he said.

In Eindhoven, hundreds of people were already in attendance fifteen minutes before the 5 pm. start of a protest on the Stadhuisplein. Though officials have said no more than 700 people will be allowed to participate, some 1,300 people have registered for the event on social media.

"We expect the protest to go smoothly, so that the discussion will continue afterwards," said community activist and organizer Nihâl Esma Altmis to the Eindhoven Dagblaad. She said that it was important everything happen well and at a social distance so the conversation remains on-topic, and not about any trouble that takes place because of crowding or officials putting an early end to the event.

Next Amsterdam event on Wednesday

In addition, another Black Lives Matter protest has been scheduled in Amsterdam, this time on the Anton de Komplein in the city's Bijlmer neighborhood in Amsterdam-Zuidoost. It will be the second such event  in just nine days after a demonstration on the Dam Square drew around 5,000 people.

According to the organizers of the events, the demonstrations are being staged to honor George Floyd, who was killed in an incident of police brutality in the US last week, as well as to voice concern over police brutality and racism in general.

"The Dutch police are structurally guilty of ethnic profiling, institutional racism and racist violence," the organizers said on Facebook. "The black community in the Bijlmer has been a victim of oppression for decades. Racism and police violence have been the subject of frequent attention in the Bijlmer since the 1990s," the statement continued.

"Our children are constantly criminalized, both in the media and on the street. Our black children are not heard. Our children suffer from extreme poverty and are literally neglected."

They follow a week of protest action across the Netherlands which, aside from Amsterdam, saw protestors gathering in The Hague and Groningen on Tuesday, Rotterdam on Wednesday, and Utrecht, Nijmegen, and Enschede on Friday.