143 arrested at illegal Amsterdam protest
A total of 143 people were arrested during an illegal demonstration on Museumplein in Amsterdam on Sunday. Fifteen of them are suspected of public violence and still in custody. The rest were charged with ignoring police orders and sent home, the Amsterdam police said on Twitter.
Around 2 thousand people gathered on Museumplein on Sunday afternoon to protest against the measures in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The municipality of Amsterdam previously banned the demonstration, citing concerns for public health and public order.
At 1:45 p.m. the police ordered the crowd gathered on the square to go home. When there were still some 2 thousand people on the Museumplein at around 2:00 p.m., the municipality issued an emergency decree. "The demonstrators still refused to leave and increasingly violated the coronavirus measures," the city said in a press release.
The police intervened in phases, the city said. First they ordered demonstrators to go home and issued warnings. After multiple warnings, the police used a water canon to disperse the crowd. After that, it was still necessary for the riot police to perform charges to get demonstrators off the square, the city said.
"Among the demonstrators there was a group of 200 to 250 people who were clearly out for confrontation," the city said. "Stones were taken from the street and thrown at officers. Some also carried boxing gloves, weapons and fireworks."
The police managed to restore calm in the city center by early evening.
According to the municipality, demonstrating and freedom of expression are fundamental rights that the city won't limit lightly. When banning the demonstration on Museumplein, the city offered the organizers the alternative of 500 protesters in Westerpark. "This is because of the possibility to close the park and properly control the influx of the participants."
The organizers, Nederland in verzet, refused the alternative and took the matter to court. The court ruled on Friday that the municipality was within its rights to ban the organization on Museumplein.