37 arrested at illegal anti-social distancing demonstration in The Hague

Police guard in a detention center
Police guard in a detention centerPhoto: Politie

Around 200 people showed up for a banned demonstration against the measures in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus in The Hague on Sunday. The police kept them away from the Malieveld, where the organizers wanted to hold the demonstration. 37 people were arrested for refusing to leave, RTL Nieuws reports. Bananas were left in front of various court rooms in protest against the coronavirus policy.

The Hague mayor Johan Remkes banned the demonstration, because he feared riots like happened during a similar demonstration the previous Sunday. That demonstration had also been banned initially, but the mayor relented and allowed a shorter, smaller demonstration to take place when people started showing up at the Malieveld despite the ban.

Organizers Virus Waanzin initially called on people to also show up for yesterday's banned demonstration, but rescinded the call shortly before the demonstration would have started. 

Instead the group called on people to leave bananas at court houses in the Netherlands, to protest against the "banana republic" the Netherlands is turning into, according to them. "This is a signal that we will not accept this and that we have now descended into a banana republic," Willem Engel of Virus Waanzin said to Rijnmond. According to Engel, the government's coronavirus policy is not fair and not transparent. The group also feels that it was not taken seriously in various lawsuits. "Hence the call to place bananas at courts."

Bananas were left at the courts in Amsterdam Rotterdam, The Hague, Amersfoort, Apeldoorn, Utrecht, Groningen, Zwolle, and Enschede, according to RTV Oost. In Enschede, a note was left with the bananas, reading: "For the guardians of the banana republic. On behalf of a silenced people." In Zwolle, the words "pro-freedom, no emergency law" was written on the court tiles with sidewalk chalk.