EU country arrests over 100 following anti-lockdown riots

More than 100 people have been arrested over three nights of violent anti-lockdown riots that rocked the Netherlands over the weekend. Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the rioters “idiots” and warned of new restrictions.

Arrests continued on Sunday evening as crowds of angry youths rampaged through Dutch cities for a third consecutive day, as protests against the government’s Covid-19 measures turned violent.

In one of the worst of these incidents on Friday, police in Rotterdam opened fire, injuring two people, after a police car was torched and protesters clashed with the officers. 

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FILE PHOTO: Police are seen charging protesters during a protest on the Malieveld against the coronavirus policies and the government on March 14, 2021 in The Hague, Netherlands. © Niels Wenstedt / BSR Agency / Getty Images
Covid protests ‘pure violence’ by ‘idiots’ – Dutch PM

The riots showed no signs of subsiding over the weekend. On Sunday, mayors of several Dutch cities and towns, including Enschede and Groningen, declared a state of emergency overnight.

Black-clad youths pelted police cars with stones, set cars on fire and damaged shops. In Groningen, the police sought to clear out the city center on Sunday evening after it was overrun by crowds “committing destruction” there, according to a police official. 

In The Hague, a rock was thrown through the windshield of an ambulance carrying a patient to hospital, while in Roosendaal, large numbers of police forces were deployed to an area where crowds of youngsters were setting off fireworks. A fire which broke out at a primary school in Roosendaal on Sunday evening may have been started by fireworks, according to local reports. 

A total of 30 people were arrested in various Dutch cities on Sunday following dozens of arrests over the prior two days, bringing the total number of those detained to more than 100, according to Reuters. Several police officers were injured during the riots.

The violence was sparked by the government’s decision to re-impose a partial Covid-19 lockdown to stifle the surge of new infections. The three-week lockdown means that restaurants and shops have to close earlier, and no spectators are allowed at sports events.

On Monday, PM Rutte slammed the rioters as “idiots” and called the protests “nothing but pure violence.” He also said that new measures could be introduced in addition to the existing restrictions in early December – or even sooner, if the Covid situation does not improve.

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