Police, Municipalities bracing for riots; Five arrested for incitement
The national police force believes that several unpublicized demonstrations and disturbances, as well as rioting, could take place following Friday evening's press conference about in which coronavirus measures are expected to be tightened. A spokesman for the police force says that the police are prepared "for demonstrations, whether announced or not".
Police unions also announced work slowdowns and work stoppages on Thursday, starting with the ME, a police units which are often deployed flexibly to quell riots. The police unions emphasized in a joint statement on Friday afternoon, "It is not true that the deployability of the police will be reduced this weekend due to union actions. That message is circulating on social media, but is completely unfounded. The delays and work stoppages announced yesterday will start in the near future, but the preparations will take some time, so don't be fooled by this fake news."
The mayors of Sittard-Geleen, Stein, and Beek implemented emergency ordinances for the weekend in an attempt to stop riots. They took the measure after calls on social media for riots in Geleen and following last weekend's riots in Stein.
On Friday, the municipality of Roermond said that they are prepared for possible disturbances and will implement an emergency ordinance if necessary.
Mayor Hubert Bruls of Nijmegen also decided to ban a demonstration announced by Nederland in Verzet for Sunday in the city center. He did so on the advice of the police, umbrella organization GGD GHOR Nederland, and the Public Prosecution Service "because of a serious risk of disruption of public order and safety and the inability to enforce the coronavirus measures."
The police unions said that the force has "maximized the deployable strength for the coming days." A spokesperson for the National Police confirms that the ME is fully operational this weekend.
"It is inconceivable that we would call our members to take action in such a tense situation. That would be contrary to our sense of responsibility and the sense of duty of our members. They would simply not heed such a call."
The police already arrested five men on suspicion of incitement to rioting in Lopik and Roermond. Four of the suspects called for riots in Lopik in a WhatsApp group. The fifth, a 22-year-old from Herkenbosch, posted a call to riot in Roermond online. Those arrested in Lopik are a 15-year-old boy and three men aged 28, 31, and 46.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will likely announce stricter coronavirus restrictions at a press conference on Friday. According to sources, they're looking at early closing times for restaurants, non-essential stores, and cultural institutions, closing them at 5:00 p.m. The evening lockdown is likely to start this weekend, with face masks becoming mandatory for older primary school students, and all secondary school students.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.