Femke Halsema was faced with a 'demonic dilemma' on Monday evening when the # BlackLivesMatter demonstration on Dam Square became many times larger than previously thought. That said the mayor of Amsterdam Monday evening at talk show Op1.
"If we could have predicted that this would be such a popular demonstration, we would have taken other measures," said Halsema.
"The expectation was that there would be about 250 to 300 people. But there were a lot more. It overwhelmed me. If I could have foreseen this many people in a bunch, we would have led it away normally."
According to the mayor, the protest grew to enormous proportions within an hour, so that only violent action could have been taken. Halsema says he faced a devilish dilemma. "There were a lot of people with heavy emotions. I could only have intervened with heavy police intervention, which in turn could have caused a lot of unrest and perhaps riots."
There were about five thousand protesters on Dam Square, most of them wearing face masks. (Photo: Pro Shots)
'Demonstration law should not just be stopped'
Halsema does not think she made a mistake with her approach to the protest. She emphasizes that the right to demonstrate is in the constitution. In her opinion, the right to demonstrate should not be stopped just like that. According to Halsema, it is impossible to force people to obey the rules at any time of the day.
During the demonstration in Amsterdam, it turned out to be impossible for demonstrators to keep 1.5 meters away in many places. Despite this, the protest was not interrupted and no one was fined. The protest led to surprised reactions from many politicians and experts. Incidentally, photos show that many protesters wore a face mask.
About five thousand people gathered at Dam Square in Amsterdam at the end of the afternoon on Monday. The protest was triggered by the death of African-American man George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. Protests are also taking place in many cities in the United States and in other countries, which are identified by the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
Tuesday Black Lives Matter demonstration in The Hague
Black Lives Matter Netherlands plans to hold more demonstrations. A protest was announced in The Hague on Tuesday 2 June, co-organized by the action group Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP). On Tuesday morning, the municipality will discuss the location in consultation with the organization. "Even with this demonstration, the RIVM guidelines remain the agreement," said a spokesman for the municipality of The Hague.
KOZP calls on participants to wear mouth masks and disposable gloves and to observe the one and a half meter rules. "If you have any symptoms of disease, then do NOT come," writes KOZP on the action page on Facebook. "Do you belong to a high-risk group? Don't come. Live in the house with people in the high-risk group. Don't come. Show your solidarity through social media, for example."
A demonstration is scheduled for Wednesday June 3 in Rotterdam.
Follow the latest developments around the virus in our live blog.
The coronavirus in short
- The coronavirus mainly spreads through sneezing and cough drops. Most patients have mild (flu-like) complaints. These are the symptoms.
- Read here what rules there are to contain the outbreak.
- We have also translated these measures into Arabic, English, Polish and Turkish.
- In our corona guide we give you an overview of all reliable information and what you should and can do now that you are at home a lot.