A huge crowd of people opposing the Dutch government’s Covid-19 restrictions gathered on Sunday near the National Museum in Amsterdam. The protest, which had been banned by the authorities, quickly descended into violence.
Chaotic scenes unfolded on the streets of the Dutch capital, where police in riot gear sought to disperse thousands of demonstrators who gathered for a prohibited rally at the Museumplein square.
The situation quickly turned violent, with photos and videos on social media showing officers in riot gear clashing with groups of demonstrators attempting to break through the police cordons.
Officers were seen beating protesters with batons and pushing them away, and demonstrators responded by hitting police with their fists, as well as with banners. There have been no reports of injuries so far. At one stage, a drone was deployed, issuing a call for demonstrators to leave the area.
A particularly disturbing video circulating on social media shows a protester being mauled by a police dog. The man apparently sought to break through a line of officers with dogs, one of which is seen lunging and biting the man’s arm as he struggles to break free. The footage shows two other dogs being controlled by the police.
Photos taken at the scene suggest that some protesters were detained. At least one person was arrested after “provoking” police officers, local media reported.
The Netherlands has witnessed numerous anti-lockdown demonstrations in recent months, prompted by the government’s increasingly restrictive Covid-19 measures, including partial lockdowns and the introduction of a health pass system for the vaccinated.
In November, Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the protests “pure violence” perpetrated by “idiots.”
Prior to the latest protest, riot police held a protest of their own, in an effort to draw attention to the high workload, bad conditions, and violence against officers. Some said they would engage protesters only when “public order is really at stake.”