Dutch police deployed mounted officers and water cannons in The Hague on Sunday after clashes erupted following a protest against COVID-19 lockdown measures.
The protest against the government’s handling of the health crisis had originally been banned by The Hague mayor Johan Remkes, over fears that social distancing measures would not be respected and that unrest would break out, police said in a statement.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc]
Remkes then allowed the demonstration to take place for a short time from 13:00 CET.
Police said that “unrest broke out” shortly after the demonstration ended as a “group of troublemakers wanted to go to the centre” which they were banned from doing “in order to guarantee the safety of residents and visitors” in the area.
The troublemakers, also described as “football supporters”, threw stones and smoke bombs at officers.
“Today was a restless day in The Hague,” Remkes said in a statement.[contfnewc]
“This has nothing to do with demonstrating or freedom of expression. This group was deliberately aiming to disturb public order,” he added.
Police deployed mounted officers and a water cannon shortly before 15:00 CET to disperse the protesters and urged people to stay clear of the area.
“This has nothing to do with a normal demonstration,” it said on Twitter, adding: “The atmosphere is grim.”
Protesters who refused to disperse from the city centre were arrested as were five other people who were throwing stones at the Central Station. A man carrying a samurai sword was also detained.