Police underestimated influencers' role in turnout for BLM protests: Inspectorate
In general, the police in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague acted well during Black Lives Matter protests in the cities early in June. They assessed the atmosphere correctly and acted accordingly, the Justice and Security Inspectorate said on Thursday. Though more attention could be paid to special circumstances, such as the role influencers can play in the turnout for such a demonstration.
The Inspectorate investigated the three protests on June 1, 2 and 3, because they had such different courses. In The Hague there was sufficient space on the Malieveld for demonstrators to maintain social distancing and the police did not have to intervene. In Amsterdam there were far more demonstrators than expected, making social distancing impossible on Dam Square, but the police deliberately chose not to intervene. In Rotterdam, the Erasmus Bridge became too crowded when more than expected demonstrators showed up, and the police ended the demonstration.
According to the Inspectorate, the police in all three cities did well in assessing the atmosphere of the demonstrations and acting accordingly. But it turned out to be difficult to determine the impact of various coronavirus measures, some of which were lifted shortly before the protests, and what effect influencers had on the turnout.
In Amsterdam, for example, influencers called on people to come to Dam Square shortly before the protest was set to start. "These events contributed to the number of protesters being greater than could be foreseen in advance."
"While estimating the turnout in Amsterdam, the influence of private social media groups and influencers was underestimated," Inspector General Henk Korvinus explained to NU.nl. "The weather was also nice and the lockdown had just been relaxed. From now on, these kinds of special circumstances must be taken into account."
According to Korvinus, the smooth course of the Black Lives Matter protest in The Hague had a lot to do with the location. The Malieveld is a clear, open space, making it easy to monitor how many protesters are there or on their way to the protest. "That is much more complicated on Dam Square, where there are also many catering establishments."
The Inspectorate concluded that these demonstrations showed the importance of police network teams, which maintain good contact with the organizers of the demonstration and the demonstrators before and during the protest. "The police network team has good and personal contact with those involved, which makes it easier to monitor and enforce," Korvinus said to NU.nl.