Four held in assault on journalists at church gatherings; Editors Assoc. dissatisfied with police response
Outgoing Health Minister De Jonge has condemned the violence that was used yesterday against journalists in Urk and Krimpen aan den IJssel. "This was way over the line. Unacceptable."
De Jonge is also unhappy about the large numbers of people gathered together in those churches. "Church services should be online for the time being. Churches should not push the boundaries of the law."
The Dutch Editor's Association views the attacks on reporters on Sunday at churches in Urk and Krimpen aan den Ijssel as an infringement on the freedom of speech. The organization now wants to discuss the situation further with public prosecutors and police, NU.nl reports.
On Sunday, at the Sion Church in Urk, a PowNed reporter was intentionally hit by car. That same day, a churchgoer at the Mieras Church in Krimpen aan den IJssel kicked and hit a reporter from RTV Rijnmond. Both churches had previously announced they would abandon the social restrictions to slow the coronavirus pandemic.
Three suspects from Urk were all in custody on Monday over the incident there. The men, aged 26, 28 and 35, were being questioned. The two younger suspects reported to the police station for questioning over their involvement in kicking a journalist. The older suspect was thought to be the man who drove into the PowNed reporter.
The person who allegedly assaulted the journalist in Krimpen has also been taken into custody.
“Police presence was scarce and they only showed up later in the day. Journalists face continuous intimidation, aggression and threats such as the ones in Urk recently”, a commissioner for the association wrote in a letter.
Police chief Henk van Essen condemned the violence over the weekend and stated that the attacks were “unacceptable.” The police announced on Sunday that they did not intervene directly to prevent the situation from further escalating.
The EditorsAssociation strongly disagrees with their response. “Journalism is a pillar of our democracy and needs to be protected not only with words in hindsight but also on the spot, should journalists face physical assaults.”
The editor-in-chief of PowNed tweeted in response to police's hesitant response, "What nonsense. Just arrest them. Complaints have already been filed, but out of fear of escalation on the day of the Lord nothing was done. Shame on the public prosecution."