Nijmegen blocks farmers from protesting in the city through next weekend
The city of Nijmegen introduced an emergency ordinance covering the area in and around the city center because of a call for farmers to bring agricultural vehicles to continue their protests. Demonstrators were asked to gather during the Gelderland city’s the International Four Days Marches, as well as the parties and festivities around the event. The ordinance took effect at 8 p.m. on Friday, and will continue until noon on 23 July.
The emergency ordinance will apply to the entire city of Nijmegen, and not just the city center, from 6 p.m. on Thursday, 21 July, due to a planned protest by Farmers Defense Force (FDF). They want to demonstrate with five hundred tractors as close as possible to the finish of the Four Days Marches. The order covering the entire city will run runs until 11:59 p.m. on 22 July.
Earlier this week, farmers were already driving their vehicles and blaring their horns through Nijmegen. They drove past the homes of the mayor of Nijmegen, Hubert Bruls, and Rob Jetten, the minister for climate policy. Bruls hinted last week that he would ban the tractor protests during the Four Days Marches. However, the demonstrating farmers never stated why they went past the mayor’s home.
Parties to kick off the event start on Saturday, and the Four Days Marches will begin on Tuesday. The Four Days Marches ends Friday on St. Annastraat, known during the festival as Via Gladiola, just outside the center.
The municipality informed FDF that a demonstration with so many tractors at the finish is physically impossible. The busiest time of the year in the city will take place on Friday, and the busiest locations will be the St. Annastraat and De Wedren, a square in the city, the municipality said.
Bruls said that the decision to institute the emergency ordinances was a difficult one for him. The Four Days Marches and the festivities “stand for openness, togetherness and fraternization. To then have to deploy such a heavy administrative tactic? That was a difficult decision. I have never had to do this before. I trust that everyone will see this and appreciate that it is reasonable.”
More than 42,000 walkers will take part in the Four Days Marches, and the parties attract many more visitors to the city. "In the coming week, together with the organizers and the emergency services, I am tasked with taking care of all those hundreds of thousands of people who visit Nijmegen. This measure can help in emergencies," said Bruls.
Demonstrations with agricultural vehicles on the public road along the Four Days Marches are also undesirable, unfeasible and dangerous, according to the mayors of the municipalities through which the walking route runs. "It is possible to discuss smaller-scale expressions along the route or expressions elsewhere in the region," according to the municipalities. They also informed FDF that they will look into potential alternatives.
An FDF spokesperson said on Friday evening that the group is still discussing the planned demonstrations, now that an emergency ordinance will be in effect in the city.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times