Hundreds of demonstrators march through Amsterdam against anti-LGBTQ violence
"We cannot and must not accept that LGBT people are intimidated and that violence is used against them. And we cannot and must never accept the terrible intolerance that underscores this," Mayor Femke Halsema on Thursday during a demonstration in Amsterdam-West against acts of violence targeting people of diverse sexualities and genders.
The protest was a statement of support for the residents of a student flat in Amsterdam, where a rainbow flag was most probably set on fire last Friday. The fire broke out early in the morning on the eighth floor of the flat. The building had to be evacuated and four people were injured. Police are considering arson that apparently targeted rainbow flags in the building as a motive. There have been similar incidents before.
Hundreds of demonstrators marched through Amsterdam-West on Thursday afternoon. The walk started at Mercatorplein and ended at the affected flat on Krelis Louwenstraat, where Halsema gave a speech.
"There is no excuse whatsoever for the horrific arson here last week. I want to thank you all for coming here. Out of solidarity for everyone for whom the rainbow flag symbolizes and to show that we can't take it," said Halsema . According to the mayor, the fight for freedom and equality must be fought everywhere. "Also in the classrooms, the living rooms, at social organizations and companies, on our city squares, and everywhere where ‘gay’ is still used as an abusive word."
Vanaf het Mercatorplein liep vanmiddag een protestmars richting de studentenflat waar afgelopen vrijdag een brand woedde, vermoedelijk doordat iemand regenboogvlaggetjes aanstak. @COCAmsterdam #Duwo pic.twitter.com/YhS9BBYUD7— omnidata (@omnidata_) August 26, 2021
The demonstrators marched along the tram tracks accompanied by the police. A group at the front carried a huge rainbow flag and a banner reading, “Enough is enough, safety now!” Many passers-by took pictures of the crowd and local residents watched from their balconies. A large rainbow flag hung from the student flat, and residents had smaller flags hung from their windows.
One resident, Julia, was sleeping when the fire broke out. "I woke up to smoke and banging on my door. We had to rush out of the building," she says. "Someone was stuck between the fire and emergency doors, because the emergency door didn't open. While we were gone, there was a break-in and things were stolen. The worst is that there is no indication of the perpetrator, because there are no cameras on the property."
Halsema said that extra detectives have been assigned to the case.
Reporting by ANP