"Coked-up hooligans" caused unrest at Hague anti-social distancing protest: Prime Minister

According to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, "coked-up hooligans" were responsible for unrest around a demonstration against coronavirus measures in The Hague on Sunday. They abused the demonstration to seek conflict with the police, according to the Prime Minister. 

Some 400 people were arrested around the protest on Malieveld on Sunday. The Hague mayor Johan Remkes initially banned the protest, but later gave permission for a smaller, shorter version when people started gathering on the Malieveld anyway, under the condition that everyone stays 1.5 meters apart. 

According to Rutte, he understands people's desire to protest, AD reports. "Most of all, there were genuinely concerned people. I respect that very much." He would also like the Netherlands to return to pre-coronavirus situations, but that is not possible because the virus "is waiting for us to relax", he said. He stressed that the right to demonstrate still exists in the Netherlands. "That is a great thing. Everyone has that right, whether you demonstrate against the corona measures or against racism. But you have to keep to that 1.5 meters distance."

Hubert Bruls, mayor of Nijmegen and chairman of the council for the country's 25 security regions, told NOS that he regrets that a small number of people ruined the demonstration for everyone else. "I fully understand everything people are looking for, but I have little understanding for people who went there for other reasons," he said, referring to the disruptions around the protest. "It was easy to communicate with most people, including with the organizers. The problem was a small group that came down on it. A number of people are really pestering the rest."

Of the approximately 400 people who were arrested, about 10 to 15 were still in custody on Monday, according to AD. They are suspected of more serious offenses, like public violence. The rest were questioned, written up and sent home on Sunday.