Gunshots injured two during Rotterdam riot; 51 arrested in total
Gunshots caused injuries to two of the seven people hurt during a riot that broke out during a protest in Rotterdam on Friday night. Police took a total of 51 people into custody during the riots on the Coolsingel in the city center. Roughly half of the suspects were underage, authorities said.
The two gunshot victims are being treated in a hospital. Authorities are still investigating if the bullets originated from police weapons. A police spokesperson had stated earlier that officers fired both targeted and warning shots Friday night.
Jan Stuijs from the Dutch Police Union told NOS that police fired when they were cornered by many rioters and to protect firefighters. "Then, the police will shot at people's legs," Stuijs said.
Police expert Jaap Timmer said during the NOS Radio 1 Journaal on Saturday that police only shoot directly during protests in extreme situations. "Around once in the ten or fifteen years," Timmers said. The last instance police opened fire during a riot was eleven years ago during the Hoek van Holland street riots. Police then fatally shot one person.
One officer was hospitalized with injuries to his leg. Paramedics also treated another police officer with injuries at the scene. Several others suffered from hearing damage caused by fireworks, or more minor injuries, with many having been hit with rocks. They were not hospitalized. A cameraman from IJmuiden was also reportedly punched in the face, and his camera gear was destroyed.
The demonstration was held after the government announced its intention to introduce a 2G coronavirus access pass policy allowing only people vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the coronavirus infection to get the necessary QR code that grants access to numerous locations.
The Rotterdam Driehoek, consisting of the mayor, district police chief and district head of the Public Prosecution Service, had been informed days in advance that a protest against the coronavirus measures would occur. They had not expected the protest to be as destructive as it was.
Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of Rotterdam said football hooligans tied to Feyenoord and other clubs were among the rioters. There has been growing concern about high levels of violence in the Netherlands linked to hooliganism.