Anti-coronavirus measures protesters march through Amsterdam, unite at Museumplein
Several thousands of protesters rallying against the government's coronavirus policy took the streets in Amsterdam again on Sunday. Farmers from Groningen and Friesland accompanied the demonstration in tractors.
The protest organized by Nederland in Verzet started at 12 p.m. at Westerpark, Oosterpark and the Olymipic Stadium in Amsterdam. The municipality declared these areas a safety risk, meaning police can stop and search anyone there. The safety warning for the Westerpark, Oosterpark and Olympic Stadium ended around 3:15 p.m.
The demonstrators then made their way towards Museumplein, where around 30 tractors waited for them. The farmers from Groningen and Friesland started driving at 1 a.m. to make it in time for the protest to Amsterdam. The farmers said they wanted to make their voice heard against the government's coronavirus policy. One tractor carrying a sign reading "Back to normal now!" joined protesters from the Olympic Stadium.
The demonstration takes place under the motto "Commemoration of the Coffee Battle," referring to a protest last January that turned into a riot and led to the arrest of 143 people.
Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema issued an urgent appeal to the demonstrators to comply with the regulations, to follow directions from traffic controllers and the police, and to leave the demonstration location if there is a threat of disturbances or violence both for their own safety and that of others. If people do not follow the rules, the police will intervene.
Police removed a group of Antifa counterprotesters from the Museumplein Sunday afternoon. The Antifa group carried signs reading "Never demonstrate with fascists" and "Not then, not now, never again fascism." The municipality said they removed the counterprotesters to ensure everyone's safety. Around 50 Antifa protesters continued their demonstration at the Max Euweplein.
Earlier on Sunday, "Fuck nazis" and "Fascists die" were spraypainted over a statue at the Olympic stadium, one of the safety risk areas. The statue shows a man with his hand raised in an Olympic greeting which some believed to be a Hitler greeting.
The statue was made in 1928. While not intended to display the Hitler greeting, historical research showed that the sign is linked to a fascist tradition. The Olympic board has wanted to move the statue for one and half years. "The vandalization shows the urgency of moving it," Ellen van Haaren from the Olympic Stadium told AT5.