Amsterdam mayor clashes with locals over erotic center plans
Mayor Femke Halsema clashed hard with residents of Amsterdam Zuid about the possible arrival of the erotic center in the district on Tuesday evening. The gathering in the RAI was officially for Halsema to explain the city’s plans for the erotic center, but she mainly listened to complaints and accusations from about 400 angry locals to the point that she was almost booed offstage. And the locals themselves left the meeting not feeling reassured, AT5 reports.
Last month, Amsterdam announced three possible locations for the erotic center, two in Zuid and one at the NDSM Wharf in Noord. Since the announcement, there’s been a lot of unrest in Zuid.
“I don’t feel like continuing to live in this neighborhood and letting my son go to school on the Noord-Zuid line. I’m against this, and that’s why I’m making my voice heard here. This is unacceptable,” one local said.
Another wanted to know how Halsema could repeat that the police think they shouldn’t be concerned when enforcement is a big problem in the current Red Light District. Another said: “Here we are on the A10. If you do something wrong here, you can get away in no time. Not in the middle of the city. It’s about enforcement. In the city, everything is small and easy to enforce, and even there, you can’t manage it.”
The mayor mainly defended the city’s plans, stressing that the authorities will ensure the neighborhood remains safe. “The moment there is a nuisance. The moment there are drug dealers, which I really don’t assume will happen, then there will be enforcement,” Halsema said in response to one of many residents venting their anger and concerns.
“What you don’t realize when you ask me this question is that I face it every day all over the city,” she said to another question about how many shootings happen around window brothels in the city. “I’m not trivializing it, but you have to ask me fair questions. I want to look it up and get back to you.”
After nearly two hours of this, the meeting ended with Amsterdam Zuid and the city not moving any closer to each other. “I really don’t think that I won anyone over tonight,” Halsema said afterward. “I also don’t think people were in the mood to be convinced by me. People really only came to protest, and that is their right. I tried to bring some arguments against it, but the debate continues.”
Locals agreed that the meeting achieved little. “Of course, I am not reassured. Not at all. The lady is not informed and presses her way and does not listen,” one said to the local broadcaster.
Tonight, Halsema will have a similar meeting with locals in Amsterdam Noord.