Friday 29 May 2020

Police say use of batons against anti-gas demonstrators was wrong

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Police in Groningen now say they were wrong to use batons in an effort to move a group of sitting demonstrators protesting about gas extraction last August, but say it was justified in other cases.

The organisers of protest, Code Rood, said last year five activists were injured when police moved in because they were sitting too close to the fence next to the tanks. Video footage of police repeatedly hitting a sitting woman caused outrage at the time.

‘The demonstrators were too close to the fence but should have been removed in a different way,’ Friday’s police statement said. In addition, officers had been wrong to use a water spray used to put out fires against the demonstrators. It is not part of the official weaponry available to the police and its use was illegal, the statement said.

In total, police say, they received 12 formal complaints about their actions during the week long campaign, focusing on both their presence and the use of violence.

‘The large police presence by the camp in Leermans and the area around the Farmsum tank park caused discomfort among locals, business owners and demonstrators and this was never the intention,’ the statement said.

‘The police presence could have been reduced earlier.  Senior officers have had a personal meeting with everyone who complained and they have all had a written reaction.’

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