Villagers complain about police brutality during New Year festivities

Photo: Gemeente Hoeksche Waard Facebook
Photo: Gemeente Hoeksche Waard Facebook

Several locals from ‘s-Gravendeel have made formal complaints about police brutality following disturbances in the Zuid-Holland village on New Year’s Eve.

They say that they were hemmed in by riot police in the early hours of January 1 and hit with batons without any justification, regional broadcaster Rijnmond reported.

‘We were blocked in my street… and everyone who came too close or gave a wrong look got thumped,’ local resident Natasja Broere told Rijnmond.

A police spokesman declined to comment on the accusations because the case is now under investigation. ‘But we don’t get called out for nothing,’ he said.

The police did say earlier in the week that they had been called in to deal with a group of about 30 youngsters who had been threatening police officers with fireworks.

‘s-Gravendeel is a village to the west of Dordrecht with an old centre. According to Rijnmond, a group of locals had gathered in the centre to set off fireworks when riot police arrived in minibuses at around 1am.

‘When I tried to walk past the bus and leave the street the door opened and I was hit in the face,’ said local Ceesjan de Zeeuw. ‘There was so much violence and even then it was not enough. I was hit on the hip. It was plain traumatic.’

Other eyewitnesses spoke of terrified teenage girls trying to get home. Another woman, sheltering in a doorway, was hit across the legs and when she fell to the ground was told to ‘get out’.

‘s-Gravendeel has a reputation for trouble at New Year and some youths were throwing fireworks at police this year, but further up in the village, another victim, Elisha van Zanten said.

Van Zanten said it appears as if the police hemmed in and attacked the wrong group. ‘We were treated like dogs,’ she said.

Three arrests were made in the village during the New Year festivities and two young men remain in custody.

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