Many demonstrators set fire to cars and tore at police officers, setting off fireworks and throwing rocks at them. Officers were forced to respond with water cannons and “direct shots” because they were afraid for their lives.
Rotterdam’s mayor condemned an “orgy of violence” during protests against COVID-19 restrictions. Seven people were injured and over 20 were arrested in the Dutch port city.
As the Netherlands attempted to stop a fourth wave coronavirus, the trouble grew.
#Rotterdam Injuries and arrests during 'orgy of violence at #COVID19 protest that saw "Police were forced to draw their weapons and even fire direct shots."pic.twitter.com/jadQwnOZWo https://t.co/uRYXwmVZcK
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Many rioters set fire to cars and tore at police officers, setting off fireworks and throwing rocks at them. Officers were forced to respond with water cannons and gunshots, fearing for their safety.
The city issued an emergency directive, which shut down public transport and ordered people to return home.
Police units were drafted from all over the country by Saturday morning and restored order.
Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb stated that police were forced to draw their guns and fire direct shots.
He said it was “an organization of violence, I don’t know of any other way to describe it”
Patricia Wessels, spokesperson for the police said that “we fired warning shots and there was also direct fire because the situation became life-threatening.”
“Unfortunately, seven people were hurt, including the police.”
Authorities claimed they have arrested more than 20 people and more are expected.
Leefbaar Rotterdam, a local political party, condemned the violence via a tweet.
It stated: “The centre of our beautiful city has been transformed into a military zone this evening.
“Rotterdam is the city where you can disagree about things that happen, but violence is never, ever, the solution.”
Protesters gathered to protest government plans to limit indoor access to those who have “corona passes”, which show they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, or have recovered from an infection.
People who haven’t been vaccinated, but can show proof of negative testing, may also apply for the pass.
The Dutch government announced last week that it would be instituting a partial lockdown for three weeks to stop the coronavirus from returning. Restaurants and shops will have to close early in order not to disturb the situation.
Sporting events are closed to spectators. People are limited to four guests at their homes.
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