Video: Riots at Hague lockdown protest; Police fire warning shot as arrests made
Authorities in The Hague, including officers on horseback, tactical units, canines and riot police, led a charge against a crowd of at least a thousand protesters on the Malieveld who were demonstrating against the country’s pandemic policy and social restrictions. Several alleged rioters were arrested on Sunday afternoon after people in the crowd lobbed heavy fireworks at police, prompting police to use force and fire at least one warning shot during the incident. The events unfolded hours before voting was set to begin in the country’s parliamentary elections.
“It is true that a warning shot has been fired, the cause of this incident is being investigated. Police dogs have also been deployed,” authorities confirmed.
Video from the scene posted online by those supporting the demonstrators including far right social media accounts showed the police moving in on the crowd, and using their batons against at least one person there. Police in response said, “A video is currently circulating on social media in which a man is arrested at Malieveld. Violence was used in this. The reason for his arrest cannot be seen on the video. He was arrested for attacking officers with a stick.”
Another person was struck by a police vehicle as it raced to a part of the grounds where several people were in a struggle on the ground. She was one of many carrying a yellow umbrella as a symbol with police using high-powered water canons to break up the protest.
The violence broke out after 4 p.m., but by that time Mayor Jan van Zanen had already issued an order to clear the demonstration site. Demonstrators were forced out of the Malieveld towards Zuid Hollandlaan and the Haagse Bos, with many stopping to gather at a gas station near the protest location.
Over 200 people had arrived at the Malieveld by 1 p.m., though permission was granted for a protest there starting at 2 p.m. with a maximum of 200 demonstrators allowed.
Over the course of several hours leading up to the incident, police had cautioned people on social media platforms not to travel to the Malieveld due to crowding. They also started issuing warnings telling those in attendance to leave the protest grounds.
Naar schatting staan er inmiddels een paar duizend personen op het #Malieveld. 'Iets' meer dan de maximum 200 die eerder werd toegestaan. En we hebben nog steeds de livestream op https://t.co/fylez0JI3L pic.twitter.com/Eq4Nrv7HTn— Regio15.nl (@regio15) March 14, 2021
“Because the maximum number of protesters on Malieveld has been exceeded, you cannot currently travel by train to The Hague. You can still leave by train from The Hague, so that you can go home,” police said.
“Are you on your way to Malieveld? Then don't come and go home.”
The demonstration was organized by the Netherlands in Resistance group. The organizers of the protest cite the Party for Freedom (PVV), Forum for Democracy (FvD), the Free and Social Netherlands party (partij Vrij en Sociaal Nederland), and List 30 (Lijst30) as possibilities to vote in next week's elections. The group and its supporters previously demonstrated on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, under the guise of spontaneously having a coffee together. The police intervened.
According to a reporter from Omroep West, the police in The Hague were present in large numbers, with powerful water cannons and the mounted police. There was also a great deal of police on the main roads to the city's center, such as on the Bezuidenhoutseweg. Protesters who can no longer go to the Malieveld, walk on the Javastraat and the Mauritskade, among others. A group also gathers in front of the Provinciehuis.
De Mobiele Eenheid is opgetrokken naar het #Malieveld en heeft omgeroepen dat de demonstratie is ontbonden en verzoekt iedereen het terrein te verlaten. Zie de livestream op https://t.co/fylez0JI3L pic.twitter.com/XsLlPBp8Ef— Regio15.nl (@regio15) March 14, 2021
Protest for better climate policy
On the Laan van Reagan and Gorbachev, near the Malieveld, another demonstration took place when bout 200 people came together to call for better climate policies. This protest reportedly ended without incident.
In more than 40 other cities, including Delft, Leiden, and Gouda, demonstrations were expected to take place. In this way, climate activists hope to enforce a better climate policy just before the elections. They do this by making a noise for a minute at every demonstration location in the Netherlands around 3 p.m, called the 'climate alarm'.
The protesters hope to draw attention to climate change and a stronger climate policy with their actions. Because the municipalities in the Netherlands have banned large demonstrations due to the coronavirus, a large number of protesters will be present virtually.
Stop tax breaks for large companies
The protesters advocate, among other things, to end the multi-billion dollar subsidies and tax breaks for large, polluting companies. "This is at the expense of families and small entrepreneurs. The government can only spend our tax money once. Now our tax money is making the climate crisis worse. That has to change," the organization writes on its website. "We demand that the government change course and force companies themselves pay for the climate damage they cause, at home and abroad."