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34 arrests after Project X Haren viral party degenerates into a riot

Saturday 22 September 2012

Some 34 people were arrested as the Project X Haren viral party generated into a riot as a ‘small group of youths’ went on the rampage on Friday evening, Dutch media report.

The smart Groningen commuter suburb has been left in chaos. ‘The whole village is littered with bottles and cans, street furniture, bikes and fences have been overturned,’ Nos reporter Martijn van der Zande said.

The local Albert Heijn supermarket was plundered after shop windows were smashed and staff forced to flee through a back door, Nos says. ‘We are not open,’ one shop worker said on Saturday. ‘Today we have to clear up the mess.’ Washing powder and other products are scattered nearby, the Telegraaf reports.

One local told the Nos, the residents are in shock. ‘It was all done by a group of nutcases,’ one told the broadcaster. ‘I just don’t understand it.’


Several thousand youngsters turned up in the village of 18,000 people on Friday evening after a girl’s 16th birthday party, announced on Facebook, went viral and became a mass hype.

Eyewitnesses said the ‘party’ began in good humour as locals turned up to see what was going one. But later in the evening, several thousand youngsters gathered by the barriers police had used to shut off the street.

Many had been drinking and started to throw bottles at the police. The fences were thrown over and the police intervened. According to the Volkskrant, at least one car was set on fire and police used teargas to try to break up the crowds.

Local police chiefs told a news conference on Saturday morning 500 police officers, including 250 riot police, had been involved in the operation. The trouble was not caused by school children but 'organised troublemakers,' police chief Oscar Dros said.

By 03.00 police had cleared the area. At least 30 people were taken to two hospitals in Groningen, some of whom had been hit by flying glass. Others had broken bones. No-one was kept in overnight.

Youths who were stranded on Zwolle train station after missing the last train home smashed windows and damaged fire extinguishers, Nos said.

Small group

Police have described the riots as a ‘worst case scenario’. They hope camera and video footage will allow them to identify other rioters. The council says it plans to try to reclaim the cost of the policing operation and the clean-up from the youths who have been arrested.

Nos reports that 15,000 people have now ‘liked’ a Facebook appeal for people to come and help clear up the mess.

Your thoughts? Use the comment box below

© DutchNews.nl

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Readers' comments (45)

A large part of the costs should be placed on the stupid girl who advertised her party, it is well-documented that these facebook event calls end up like this.

By Stefan | September 22, 2012 9:43 AM

It was all so predictable.Could it have been prevented?...probably.

By jason buttle | September 22, 2012 10:30 AM

I am not surprised at all. In Groningen the students are not respecting the rules and all and have loud parties late into the night, no matter which day of the week. They also do not react to polite and friendly notices and the police cannot do much about it.

By Joos | September 22, 2012 10:42 AM

"Nos reports that 15,000 people have now ‘liked’ a Facebook appeal for people to come and help clear up the mess."

Lekker Belangrijk, it's just a click of a button. The real result is how many will actually come to clear the mess.

I think the troublemakers need electronic tagging for an extended period of time, for example 10 years. So every time such an event gets organized, they can be easily tracked.

By George | September 22, 2012 11:17 AM

I agree with Stefan: the girl who started this mess because of her inability of using social network should be held responsible for at least part of the damage,
Youngsters need to learn about taking responsabilities also about what they post on internet.

By joanna | September 22, 2012 11:22 AM

This behaviour is a disgrace and should not be tolerated.

By Declan | September 22, 2012 12:15 PM

The clean up is a good idea but the problem is that the idiots who made the mess dont care and will simply be watching innocent people not involved who want a clean town do all the work while they sleep off thier hang overs, laughing at how "vet" the party was

By James | September 22, 2012 12:34 PM

It's the same in Amsterdam. It's a generation thing. They were promised just about everything in their future and now their parents spoil them because they feel guilty. Not for nothing, in the south, alert parents send their kids to Belgian schools where severity is part of the game. For what the police is concerned, well the new generation of police agents is pretty sinister.

By JeroenD | September 22, 2012 12:51 PM

It wasn't the girl who set up a website for the event, made youtube video advertisements, or chose to have radio DJ's encourage everyone to go there. The girl just made an honest mistake of overlooking the "public" setting. This is a first in the Netherlands.

By Patrick D | September 22, 2012 1:29 PM

not just the youth of today, in the 60's we had the "Nozems"

By Wilhelmina | September 22, 2012 2:12 PM

I totally agree with JeroenD. Parents, learn your lesson, a soft hand makes spoiled kids. Stop spoiling your offspring and show some backbone. Give them some discipline. You're doing yourself and the world a favour.

By Stefanie | September 22, 2012 2:14 PM

Who were the "organised troublemakers"? Organised by whom? To do what?

By Don | September 22, 2012 3:41 PM

Luckily the girl was not to blame. If something explodes it's due to media attention or ill-tempered friends of her that decided to invite other friends. Not the fact that a girl has not used a checkbox.

But it's not even about the fact that she didn't place a checkbox, if word gets out and there is a happening with bored mobs, this will always happen. When people decided to create a Facebook page for project x, and things go viral then it's all out of the hands of this girl.

Hopefully this girl won't feel bad about this, we support you! (Kop op meid!) Don't pay attention to these people venting their resentment towards social media to you.

By Dirk | September 22, 2012 3:46 PM

I'm on board with Stefan and Joanna, the person that started this needs to feel some harsh consequences - at least a great big fine and a ban from using Facebook until the person grows up and understands the meaning of responsibilty. I have no problems with young people wanting to drink, smoke pot and play loud music - comes with the age. We did this in corn fields and abandoned warehouses on the edge of town when I was younger. Have the values of the new generation changed? This looks like it was planned and implemented intentionally just to cause big problems without any real point or reason.

By Bill | September 22, 2012 3:55 PM

And we even can't use the Wilders's Meldpunt - it seems the event in Hare was not a Poles's night out!

By Barbara | September 22, 2012 5:25 PM

Of course one wonders what inspired a collective of up to 30 000 individuals to see fit to attend a 16 year old girl’s birthday party? One also has to wonder if the party was on some level a metaphor of some degree of discord in the cultural landscape or just disengaged individuals feeding off a viral theme or simply the release of pent up hostility at the hands of a viral mechanism.


By scallywag | September 22, 2012 5:28 PM

So, this is 'adult' behaviour is it?
'Superior than thou' because you've never made a mistake, and know every security feature on your pc.
'Blame the victim' because if the victim wasn't conveniently there, there would be nobody to blame for riots, muggings, rapes, assaults, etc.
'Point the finger' because it's always, always somebody elses fault (child, parents, teachers, police, anyone except themselves.)

If adults can't begin to preach love, respect, compassion, sympathy... then they themselves are the only ones to blame when humankind goes to hell in a handcart.

This girl is not responsible for 4000 yobs turning up, the yobs are responsible. She and her parents did everything right in alerting the authorities after realising the danger. Kudos.

By osita | September 22, 2012 5:33 PM

They asked for this because they promised the party would be on another location. But there was no party! So what you think?? 1+1 makes 2.

By Henk | September 22, 2012 5:42 PM

Anyone who blames a 16 year old and expects her to pay the costs is an idiot, you can't blame a child!

I think we need to dig deeper and figure out why the youth of this country are so angry? Social problems can't be policed but they can be fixed. I personally think that political correctness is to blame and now the youth have no identity, nothing to believe in & don't know who they are.

By phil | September 22, 2012 5:48 PM

34 arrests after Project X Harem viral party degenerates into a riot. This unfortunate event is a symptom of a deeper danger. In this case Facebook which perpetrates a mechanism of not only user exposé but user manipulation. An example my Facebook account was disabled because I said in the" Economist” that they will not exist. With poor IT expertise it’s just IT social dumping.

By Terence Hale | September 22, 2012 6:28 PM

Same thing happened in Perth, Western Australia last weekend. 500 people. The people organizing it are up now facing $15,000 (€12,000) fine each. Hefty fine for 17 year olds. http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/14920042/party-hosts-face-charges/

The person organizing it should be responsible for some of the cost for sure.

Having said that last time I put a party on Facebook 9 people turned up, somewhere in between would have been nice.

By G Na | September 22, 2012 7:30 PM

I absolutely disagree. If you actually look at who created the event Project X Haren,then you will see that it was not the girls birthday page at all, it was actually 2 people from out of the country. One from New Zealand and the other from Germany, who of which had a picture of Hitler on his wall

By Sven | September 22, 2012 10:42 PM

The behavior of these young people is unacceptable. A person does not need to have a stay at home mother to know right from wrong. 99 percent know when they are doing a wrong. They need to be punished.

By Natalie | September 22, 2012 10:45 PM

Unfortunately everyone missed the psychology pertaining to the unrest leading to disorder, including the press, how sad.. :(

There will be more failures in the future if the authorities sit back & guess there way around such problems that can be avoided.

By The visitor | September 22, 2012 11:10 PM

Uh, to all of you bashing the girl, who said it was her that announced it? There have been several reported incidents where somebody else announces a party and things spiral out of control.

Talk about a knee-jerk reaction...

By Chris | September 23, 2012 3:18 AM

Several thousand?? Did they all bring a birthday present?

By Bobbi Jones | September 23, 2012 8:22 AM

The girl who posted the party should be held responsible for any damage and the cleanup, also any that were caught by the coppers should be made to participate in cleaning as part of their sentencing.

By DougB | September 23, 2012 9:27 AM

shoot the bastards or put for long period in jail, this kind of people should not supposed to live.

By nico | September 23, 2012 10:04 AM

I think Mark Zuckerberg should be made to pay for the clean up.

By Paul | September 23, 2012 11:41 AM

Of course not! She made a little mistake, but did nothing on purpose! The people who actually went there and destroyed everything should be charged! They can be found on the fb page of the party!!

By Kida | September 23, 2012 11:58 AM

@Stefen. How on earth can you blame a girl for this! Use your brain (or are yoy a troll?) Those at fault are those who knew it was a private party yet still turned up. It is call GateCrashing. Facebook did not change this.

By si | September 23, 2012 1:27 PM

@Johanna. - easy for you say from behind your keyboard. Take FB out of the equation and go back to the way we used to do it.
"Hi Jo! wanna come to my party tonight? You can bring a friend.", and you arrive with 10 of your friends. Do you think you and your 10 friends are now welcome? Nope. Didn't need FB to do that.

By si | September 23, 2012 1:31 PM

I feel there is not any excuse for the behavior of these obvioulsy bored dull kids.
However I think it is pathetic how many cops came and could do not much to stop it. What the f***? I don't get how so many officers were needed and could not get things under control.
Also really you rob the AH... Ahhh Dutch youth

By Ange | September 23, 2012 2:36 PM

Perhaps instead of blaming the girl who accidently forgot to make an event private, we should be blaming the people who turn this into a mob. Or perhaps even facebook for allowing an event to be made public without notifiying or warning the creator?

By stevie | September 23, 2012 3:28 PM

All those who are blaming the girl who made an innocent mistake should consider blaming the mob themselves.

What next? Blame a girl who wears a short skirt for being raped?

The problem is the police and nation as a whole are too tolerant of deviant kids. Stop being soft-handed - come down hard on them.

By A Nonny Mouse | September 23, 2012 5:02 PM

I think most people who can reason with people will see this as an abnormal event not unseen elsewhere. When anyone uses social media, some people can use it and abuse the privelage to tell a lot of people to come not thinking a lot of those people will not keep a small party private. No, I do not think this child responsible for a riot or damages, but the perps who did this must be made to to put on a list and watched for future events. Who knew a social event for 1-60 people which was all it was supposed to be to come to 20-30,00 people. Make the evil pay.DUTCH

By JACK MEYER | September 23, 2012 6:09 PM

No class! A handful of Kids are all you need to lead the gullible and weaker peers to do outlandish things. The hard core don't outgrow this kind of behavior but hopefully the weaker gullible kids who followed can realize their susceptibility to be manipulated and will be encouraged to take a more mature stand the next time around. Kudos to the kids who volunteered to clean up afterwards and to make their stand. That's the future leadership of the Netherlands.

By roland | September 23, 2012 9:42 PM

They knew something big was going to happen, so they should have closed off the village with road blocks. As much I hate facebook and every single person who took part it this disgusting incident, the authorities are much to blame here.

By Anne Onymous | September 24, 2012 12:16 AM

@si "You can bring a friend" literally means ONE FRIEND and does NOT imply that I should forward the invitation to friends of friends, neighbours, colleagues, and so on.
When FB was not there, there was a thing called MANNERS. I do not think the girl or her friends knows any of those. Plus, if a person cannot use a tool (because that's what FB is, a tool), then he-she should be forbid to use it, or pay the consequences if something goes wrong. "Accidentally forgot"? That sounds like people flying low cost who do not read the terms and conditions.
Go on not blaming youngsters for their acts, you'll have adults who won't be able of taking responsabilities.

By joanna | September 24, 2012 8:06 AM

It was not the girl's fault who posted the event on FB; thousands of party events every day are organised this way and they do not result in a civil rebellion. Anyone thinking it was the fault of the girl and social media is blind to the real problem.

By Andy | September 24, 2012 8:10 AM

It is not wise to blame anyone else except the troublemakers themselves. People have to be made responsible for their own choice and action. They should be responsible for the clean up and costs of damages associated.

By ufo | September 24, 2012 8:17 AM

This is the youth that will be the future of this country. Shouldn't we blame the society that raised them?

By Bob | September 24, 2012 8:51 AM

False flag, they need to practice controling angry mobs for when the real riots hit the streets. The revolution will not be televised and it will not be posted on Facebook.

By Dr Ponzi | September 24, 2012 10:12 AM

I assume most of the people here are expats, who statistically wise are higher educated. Therefore comments like, I didn't expect comments like "the girl should be held responsible"

Let's look at it; A 16 year old girl organized a party for her friends but forgot/intended not to make it a private one.

A joke started and more and more people "said" they were going to go there, hence project X started.

It ended up in a big mess..

In which way is the girl responsible? For organizing a party for her friends? Should she have done it in secrecy so other people couldn't try to crash her party?

Second of she is SIXTEEN! A kid.

By Mister smarty pants | September 24, 2012 3:21 PM

Placing blame on the birthday girl seems a little harsh. After all, she had no way of knowing that it would go viral. People post party invitation every day on Facebook, and things like this do not happen. I actually feel a little sorry for the girl. Her 16th birthday was ruined by a bunch of disrespectful gate crashers who were determined to cause trouble somewhere. It just happened to be her party invitation that caught their attention. As for the troublemakers, there will always be rebellion in every generation. However, a little more discipline at home might have helped.

By Carla | September 24, 2012 7:55 PM

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