A'dam mayor survives debate on overcrowded BLM protest

Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam survived a motion of no confidence filed against her in a city council debate on Wednesday regarding a Black Lives Matter protest on Dam Square that got so crowded that social distancing was impossible. The motion of no confidence, filed by VVD, FvD and PvdO, was supported by 9 councilors. 35 councilors supported Halsema, NU.nl reports.

Several opposition parties in the Amsterdam city council criticized Halsema for her actions during the anti-racism protest on June 1. The Amsterdam triangle of mayor, police and prosecutor had expected a few hundred people to participate in the demonstration, instead at least 5 thousand showed up. This made Dam Square so crowded that protesters could not keep 1.5 meters apart, as prescribed by anti-coronavirus measures. 

Because the right to demonstrate is enshrined in the Constitution, and because Halsema feared that sending police in to break up a protest against racist police brutality would only escalate matters, she decided to let the protest continue. The demonstration ended peacefully, and without major incident, at the scheduled time.

Halsema admitted in the city council debate on Wednesday that the Amsterdam triangle had made a wrong estimate on the number of demonstrators. The police are already investigating how their information on the protest was off on such a large scale. The mayor apologized that the city had not communicated to warn people about the crowd on Dam Square, and hand not called on demonstrators to leave. 

A second Black Lives Matter protest happened in the Nelson Mandela Park in Amsterdam on Wednesday. Over 10 thousand demonstrators participated and largely maintained social distancing.