400 arrested at anti-coronavirus protest in The Hague
The protest, organised by Virus Waanzin, was initially banned by the mayor of The Hague Johan Remkes due to various safety concerns. However, permission was granted on Sunday morning for a short demonstration until 1.30pm, and protesters were asked to follow social distancing measures.
As stated on their website, Virus Waanzin fights for the preservation of a democratic state and believes the measures in place to combat corona infringe on fundamental freedoms and rights of the Dutch people.
Only a few hundred protesters were expected, but by Sunday afternoon the number of people quickly rose to thousands. After being ordered by the police to leave Malieveld, some people went home and the protest shifted from peaceful to restless.
Demonstrators are reported as not having adhered to the 1,5 metre social distancing rule, and police used charges and water cannons to disperse protesters. After a final order at 4.30pm to leave Malieveld, at least 100 people were arrested for disobeying rules.
Sunday afternoon also saw police confronted by football supporters attempting to storm The Hague train station.
Those arrested were detained for offences including not following police orders, throwing stones and attempting to storm the nearby station. One protester was arrested for the possession of a Samurai sword. Many of those arrested were released from custody by yesterday evening.
Mayor Remkes’ response
In a statement, the municipality of The Hague wrote that the police had received information to expect various groups of troublemakers, including football hooligans, who would attempt to interfere with and disrupt the demonstration.
Mayor Johan Remkes labelled Sunday a restless day and thanked the police for their efforts to reestablish peace. He addressed issues of freedom of speech, stating that the violent groups were instead deliberately seeking to disturb public order and safety.