More than 470 people have been arrested during three days of unrest following the imposition of a curfew which took place throughout the Netherlands on Jan. 25. Officials said the demonstrators, who reportedly used social media apps to organise, were overwhelmingly teenagers.
“We have had riots in the past, but it’s rare to have this for several nights across the entire country,” National Police spokeswoman Suzanne van de Graaf said on Tuesday. “It’s not only in known problem areas but much more widespread.”
Police reported that demonstrators threw fireworks and rocks at officers, who responded with force to dispel the groups in cities across the country including the capital, Amsterdam, as well as The Hague and Rotterdam. Shops were looted and vandalized. The cities of Den Bosch, Zwolle, Amersfoort, Alkmaar, Hoorn, Gouda, Haarlem, and Veenendaal experienced troubles, including cars being burned and police attacked with stones.
“It’s an outburst of anger that the Netherlands hasn’t seen for many, many years,” Vaessen said.
Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said in a statement that rioters would be quickly brought before courts by public prosecutors. “This has nothing to do with demonstrating against corona measures.”
“They won’t get away with it,” he told reporters in The Hague. “If you rob people who are struggling, with the help of the government, to keep their head above water, it’s totally scandalous.”
The 21:00 to 04:30 curfew, enforced on Saturday, is the first in the Netherlands since World War II. Violators face a €95 (£84) fine. Exemptions are allowed, for example for people having to work, attend funerals or walk their dogs, on condition that they present a certificate.
Police have dispersed or detained hundreds of protesters against Covid-19 lockdowns in other European countries, including France, Spain, Hungary, Austria, Denmark, Belgium as continuing quarantine regimes across the continent chafed against the economic and social toll of nearly a year of restrictions on business, travel and community life.