Protesters gather with tractors and trucks on Dam Square in Amsterdam
At least a thousand demonstrators gathered on Dam Square in Amsterdam on Saturday afternoon along with about a dozen tractors and trucks decorated with banners. The activists responded to a call from the action group Nederland in Verzet, which last week announced a "worldwide protest" to support farmers, fishermen, truckers, and others.
The group’s name translates to Netherlands in Resistance. They were closely tied to many protests against coronavirus rules and Covid-19 vaccinations, attracting some who also shared belief in various conspiracy theories.
In addition to the nitrogen plans, those present on Saturday also spoke out against the media, high fuel prices, and Covid-19 vaccinations, the reception of Ukrainian refugees, and the childcare benefits scandal.
Many demonstrators on Saturday were wearing red handkerchiefs, there were many upside-down Dutch flags present. In recent weeks, those flags have become a symbol of farmers' protests against the Cabinet's nitrogen policy. Many activists began a march along a route through the city at about 1 p.m.
A spokesperson for the municipality said that a limited number of tractors were allowed on the square as a backdrop for the demonstration. He claimed that tractors were stopped in several places in the city to prevent too many from arriving at Dam Square. "We are looking to see if they can park somewhere temporarily, so that people can continue on foot."
Some farmers gave speeches at the event, and organizers presented a video message from Michael Flynn, a former lieutenant general in the United States Army. "Today we are all Dutch farmers. Your struggle is our struggle,” Flynn said in a message supporting farmers. “We applaud your courage and we fight to defend your land, your abiltity to farm and your freedoms are under attack.”
He also called on Americans to, "Post and share the flag of Holland on all of your social media sites." Flynn pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court to making false statements to the FBI over his connection to a Russian ambassador. He was indicted in an investigation led by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian influence on the 2016 election.
Prior to the indictment, Flynn served for three weeks as President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor. Trump pardoned Flynn shortly after Trump was voted out of office, roughly two months before his successor, Joe Biden, was sworn in.
In November, Flynn and five other former top Trump advisers were subpoenaed by the U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6 storming of the Capitol. The committee is trying to uncover details about a coordinated effort to contest the 2020 election results.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times