Monday 18 January 2021

Arrests at ‘protest walk’ and demonstration against coronavirus rules


Two people have been arrested after police broke up a ‘walk for freedom’ to protest against lockdown rules in Breda.

Around 100 people took part in the event in the Noord-Brabant town on Sunday afternoon. Police intervened when it became clear that the ‘walk’ was a protest that had not been authorised by the local council and breached social distancing rules.

Under the current lockdown gatherings of more than two people are not allowed in public places, with the exception of organised protests.

Most of the people taking part in the protest dispersed after being warned by police, but two people were arrested for incitement. The town’s mayor, Paul Depla, imposed a conditional penalty on any future organised walks, meaning participants will be automatically fined if they go ahead.

The organiser of the walk told participants in a Telegram message that he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the intervention of the police. ‘At the same time it’s a reality check: the world is changing and not in a positive way,’ he wrote in the message, reported by local newspaper BN De Stem.

Another protest in Hilversum was broken up by police half an hour early because it had too much of a ‘party atmosphere’. One person was arrested as the crowd was dispersed at around 3.30pm.

Around 400 people joined in the anti-lockdown demonstration on Marktplein. A spokesman for the municipality said the event was ended because people were dancing to loud music and ignoring the requirement to keep 1.5 metres apart.

Organiser Tino noKps of protest group Nederland in Opstand denied that the music was excessively loud and said he would be reclaiming the cost of the event from the municipality.

‘It shows that a lot of people agree with our statement,’ he told NH Nieuws. ‘So maybe it’s time for Mr Rutte to think again about what he’s doing.’

An anti-fascist demonstration in Amsterdam in response to the storming of the Capitol building in Washington passed off without incident.

Around 350 people took part in the protest on Sunday, which was moved from Dam Square to the Westerpark to give the participants more space. The city council painted circles on the ground at 1.5 metre intervals to check people were observing social distancing.

Organisers, who included the pro-diversity party BIJ1, said the protest was also aimed at far-right politicians such as Thierry Baudet and Geert Wilders and the media who ‘normalised’ their contribution to the public debate.

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