Amsterdam: 10,000 attendees, 30 arrests, 4 cops hurt at banned lockdown demonstration; New protest set for Jan. 16
The police arrested thirty people on Sunday during an unauthorized demonstration against the country’s coronavirus policy that started on Museumplein in Amsterdam. To get around the ban, the organizers announced that they would show up at Museumplein “to drink coffee.” A peak of nearly 10,000 people attended the event, a spokesperson for Mayor Femke Halsema said.
The arrests were made for various offenses, including disturbing public order, inability to identify oneself, assault and illegal possession of weapons. Out of the thirty people who were arrested, nine were still incarcerated on Monday morning. Seven of them are suspected of violence against police officers. The other two were held on weapons possession charges.
The police prevented approximately two hundred people from entering the city on the basis of an emergency order issued by the mayor designating the Museumplein area as a security risk, which also gave officers the authority to stop and search people at random. Among them were several members of various groups, who wanted to bring weapons to the Museumplein and were prepared to use violence, according to police.
When protesters refused to leave the square, officers intervened with the riot police forming a line. Mounted units and police dogs were also deployed and a number of officers used force during the ensuing turmoil.
Four police officers were injured when some protesters tried to break through a police blockade near Paulus Potterstraat. A police dog was deployed at that location to support the officers.
During the afternoon, a large group of demonstrators marched to the Westerpark, where far-right political party Forum voor Democracy held a party. A small group of demonstrators then returned to Museumplein By Sunday evening, the Museumplein was emptied out, and the police were able to stand down, according to a spokesperson for the municipality.
Another protest is planned for January 16 on Museumplein under the title, “The Commemoration of the Coffee Battle.” This references a protest disguised as a coffee meet-up last Spring which resulted rioting and claims of excessive force by police. The new protest is being organized by Nederland in Verzet, or Netherlands in Resistance. They announced on Sunday that they wanted to hold marches from three locations towards the Museumplein. The planned starting points are the Olympic Stadium, the Westerpark, and the Oosterpark.
Mayor Halsema, along with the leadership of the local police and Public Prosecution Service, made the decision to ban Sunday’s demonstration when the organization, Samen voor Nederland, refused several conditions that would facilitate a safe protest, the city said. These included limiting the size of the protest to 3,500 people, ensuring everyone maintains a physical distance of 1.5 meters from each other, and cancelling the march through the city.
The police said they also received intelligence that people with intentions of violently disturbing the peace wanted to intermingle with the legitimate protestors before triggering a riot. That prompted the stop-and-search order to be issued.
Reporting by ANP