Amsterdam will not ban new protests against coronavirus measures
New protests against the coronavirus measures in Amsterdam in the coming days will not be banned in advance, a spokesperson for Mayor Femke Halsema said. There is no reason to fear disruption of public order, which was a factor in the city's decision to try to ban a protest last Sunday on Museumplein.
"Demonstration remains a fundamental right. If possible, we will facilitate that," the spokesperson said. The city has been notified of upcoming demonstrations. It is not known how many people attend.
Initially, organizer Nederland in Verzet, had announced protest actions for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in the capital. It is now known that demonstrations are planned across the country through Sunday, from Staphorst to Blerick, and from Emmen to Delft. There will also be protests in Amsterdam on Saturday and Sunday.
The group is also calling on shops that are allowed to still be open on these days to close their doors voluntarily, and in solidarity with the businesses that were forced to close during the current lockdown.
Last Sunday, thousands of people came to an unauthorized demonstration against the coronavirus measures on Museumplein. At the busiest time, the municipality counted about 10,000 protesters. When they refused to leave the Museumplein, the riot police intervened. A large group then moved to the Westerpark, where there was a gathering for political party Forum voor Democracy. Later, several hundred demonstrators returned to the Museumplein.
Thirty people were arrested and four officers were injured. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture used a video of one incident involving a protester and police officers in Amsterdam to call on people to report incidents of police brutality.
The leaders of the municipality, police and Public Prosecution Service were initially prepared to allow the demonstration subject to certain conditions, like limiting attendance to 3,500, making protestors keep 1.5 meters distance from each other, and cancelling the march through the city. The municipality said the organization refused to cooperate, and alleged they were not interested in a safe and orderly demonstration.
The city also claimed that organization wanted confrontation and to violate the coronavirus rules, prompting the decision to ban the protest. The police also had strong indications that individuals and groups were out to cause disturbances and were prepared to use violence.
Reporting by ANP