D66 call for choke hold to be banned in wake of George Floyd’s death
Coalition party D66 has called for police to be banned from using choke holds in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
Party leader Rob Jetten drew parallels between Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and the that of Aruban tourist Mitch Henriquez, who was pinned to the ground by five police officers while leaving an outdoor concert in The Hague in 2015. His death sparked several nights of rioting in the city’s multi-ethnic Schilderswijk district.
‘Thankfully the choke hold is rarely used in the Netherlands, but we have seen in America what the consequences can be,’ he told NOS Radio 1 Journaal.
The move was a number of measures proposed by D66 to tackle racial inequality that also includes stricter inspections and fines of up to €10,000 for companies that discriminate against ethnic minorities at work.
‘A police force that is for everyone should not use a technique that results in too many fatalities and has come to symbolise situations in which the monopoly on violence is directed at unarmed people of colour,’ the party said in a statement.
The officer who applied the fatal choke hold to Henriquez was given a suspended jail sentence of one year in 2019. However, an investigation by the justice ministry in the wake of the Aruban’s death concluded that the technique should not be banned.
Other coalition parties dismissed Jetten’s proposal and accused D66 of being an ‘anti-police party’, while police unions attacked the idea as ‘a bolt from the blue’.
Klaas Dijkhoff, parliamentary leader of the right-wing VVD, said: ‘A choke hold is a very different thing from a knee in your neck. This is putting symbols above facts. If we chuck things together too easily we’ll make a mess of them.’
Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus stressed that George Floyd had been strangled, which is forbidden in the Netherlands, and said the introduction of electric stun gadgets such as Tasers would make choke holds redundant.
Jan Struijs, chairman of the police union NPB, said Dutch police applied choke holds ‘very carefully and reservedly’. ‘I think it’s a pity that D66 find it necessary to carry over an American debate – however important it is – to the Netherlands,’ he said. ‘You can’t compare the two. Officers in America have a very different training from those in this country.’
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