Mayors critical of Cabinet over Amsterdam BLM protest row; Voice support for Halsema

A number of mayors expressed criticism on how the government handled its response to a crowded Black Lives Matter protest in Amsterdam last week. They're annoyed in particular about how parliament criticized and discussed Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema during a debate last week without giving her the option to be there and defend herself, they said during a meeting of the Security Council on Monday, RTL Nieuws reports.

During a debate on Thursday, parliament discussed a text message exchange between Halsema and Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security regarding the demonstration, which drew so many people that social distancing was impossible on the square. Grapperhaus was summoned to the Tweede Kamer to explain the exchange, but Halsema was not present. Parliamentarians heavily criticized the Amsterdam mayor, without her being able to tell her side of the story or say anything in her own defense. 

Johan Remkes, interim mayor of The Hague, is annoyed by this. Parliamentary debates sometimes make him "less happy", he said. "Especially parliamentary debates in which I hear all kinds of comments about civil servants or mayors without them being able to say anything back." He called this "extremely inappropriate behavior" by the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament and expressed support for Halsema. 

Hilversum mayor Pieter Broertjes called the parliamentary debate on the message exchange 'embarrassing'. "That debate should have taken place in the city council of Amsterdam," he said. "It was a soap opera, not a serious discussion." 

Broertjes and a number of other mayors said that they will not change their messaging behavior because of this. "Stop demanding it. A administrator must be able to have a space where he can blow off steam or shout without being called to order," Broertjes said. 

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