Two Shot as Police in Rotterdam Open Fire on Rioters After Dutch Lockdown Protests Turned Violent

This photograph taken on November 20, 2021 shows burned bikes after a protest against the partial lockdown and against the 2G government policy in Rotterdam. - Dutch police fired warning shots, injuring at least two people, after rioters against a partial Covid lockdown torched a police car and hurled stones …
JEFFREY GROENEWEG/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Police have said at least two people may have been shot as a result of officers firing warning shots during violent protests in Rotterdam on Friday evening, as demonstrations against the Dutch government’s decision to enact another coronavirus lockdown descended into chaotic riots.

Several people were injured in the riots in Rotterdam on Friday, including police officers, who were pelted with stones and fireworks. Police, in turn, deployed water cannons and fired “warning shots” which they say may have injured at least two people.

“We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening,” police spokeswoman Patricia Wessels said per The Times.

“We know that at least two people were wounded, probably as a result of the warning shots, but we need to investigate the exact causes further.”

According to a police statement, the demonstration started with around 100 people gathering at 8 pm on the Coolsingel, one of the Dutch city’s most famed streets. However, the demonstration soon swelled to hundreds.

After turning violent, with protesters setting fires to cars — including at least one police car — as well as public infrastructure, the police issued orders for people to leave the city centre, announcing through loudspeakers, “Violence will be used or people will be arrested” if they failed to leave, the local NRC reported.

Rotterdam Police said that at times the situation was so “dangerous and threatening” that police felt the need to fire warning shots.

The country’s National Criminal Investigation Department is reportedly investigating the actions taken by the police.

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb described the evening as having been an “orgy of violence”. Aboutaleb said that at least 20 protesters have been arrested, but added that many more are expected after police review camera footage.

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus condemned the actions taken by the protesters, saying: “The riots and extreme violence against police officers, riot police and firefighters last night in Rotterdam are disgusting to see.

“Protesting is a great right in our society, but what we saw last night is simply criminal behavior. It has nothing to do with demonstrating.”

The protests come as the Dutch government became the first to reintroduce lockdown measures in Western Europe. The government has also implemented a curfew on certain businesses and has barred fans from attending sports matches.

The government has also said that it is planning on putting forward a law that would exclude people who test negative for the Chinese virus from the nation’s vaccine passport system, meaning only those who have been fully vaccinated or have proof of recovery would be allowed into certain public venues.

A planned protest against the measures in Amsterdam on Saturday was cancelled following the riots, with the organiser of the event saying that they could not guarantee the “safety” of the protesters.

A large-scale protest is currently underway at the time of this reporting in Vienna in response to the newly formed government in Austria enacting a nationwide lockdown and declaring that vaccines would become mandatory in February, with the unjabbed facing fines and possible prison sentences.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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