Coronavirus: second night of riot over anti-Covid restrictions in the Netherlands, “an orgy of violence”

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In the city where the Dutch government is seated, police officers in riot gear charged groups of demonstrators who threw stones and various objects at them in a working-class neighborhood. They used a water cannon to put out burning bikes at a busy intersection. Five police officers were injured and at least seven people arrested.

Violence also broke out in Urk, a small Protestant town in the center of the country, and in several localities in the province of Limburg (south). Two football matches were also interrupted for several minutes in Alkmaar (west) and Almelo (east) by supporters frustrated by the closed door imposed as part of the fight against Covid-19, according to local media.

Friday evening, a demonstration had already turned into chaos in the center of Rotterdam, with three protesters injured by police fire and 51 people arrested.

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The Netherlands reintroduced partial containment last week to cope with an outbreak of Covid-19 cases, with a series of health restrictions affecting in particular the restaurant sector, which is due to close at 8:00 p.m.

The government is now planning to ban certain places for the unvaccinated, including bars and restaurants in an attempt to stem the tide of contamination. More than 21,000 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the Netherlands on Friday.

“People are protesting against confinement and 2G”, which allows only those vaccinated (“geimpft”) and cured (“genesene”) to access certain public places, Ferdi Yilmaz, owner of a pizzeria, told AFP in The Hague. “They are angry”, he added, accusing the police of having dragged several people out of his shop, breaking the glass of the front door and having hit him on the hand “for no reason” .

Five police officers were injured, one of whom was taken to hospital with a concussion, and two are suffering from hearing damage caused by the sound of the fireworks, police in The Hague said in a statement. An ambulance carrying a patient had its window shattered by a stone throw, police added.

At the start of the day on Saturday, the demonstrations had nevertheless started calmly in several cities of the country, such as Amsterdam or Breda (south), where a thousand people marched carrying signs saying “No to confinement”.

The demonstration in Breda even looked like a party, the participants dancing following floats with DJs, “party buses” bringing up the rear, noted an AFP journalist. Smoke bombs were used and some fireworks were fired, as the last participants dispersed.

“People want to live […] that’s why we are here, ”Joost Eras, one of the organizers, told AFP. But “we are not rioters. Here, we are at peace, ”he assured, distancing himself from the nocturnal chaos that had erupted the day before in Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb called Friday’s incidents an “orgy of violence”. “Three rioters were injured when they were hit by a bullet. They are still in the hospital, ”Dutch police said, adding that an investigation would be carried out to determine“ whether the injuries were caused by police bullets ”.

A total of seven people, including police officers, were injured in the violence in Rotterdam. Of the 50 or so people arrested, half were minors and the rioters came from different parts of the country, said police, who were still looking for other suspects.

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