Dutch police open fire on rioters during anti-lockdown protests: 'Orgy of violence' | MCU Times

Dutch police open fire on rioters during anti-lockdown protests: ‘Orgy of violence’

HAAG, The Netherlands (AP) – Police opened fire on protesters and seven people were injured in riots that broke out in central Rotterdam around a demonstration against COVID-19 restrictions. The mayor of the Dutch city called it “an orgy of violence.”

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told reporters in the early hours of Saturday morning that “police on a number of occasions felt the need to draw their weapons to defend themselves” as rioters ran amok through the port city’s central shopping district, setting fire and throwing stones and fireworks at the officers.

“They fired at protesters, people were injured,” Aboutaleb said. He had no details about the injuries. Police also fired warning shots.

A number of police officers were also injured in the violence, with officers arresting dozens of people and expecting to arrest more after studying video footage from security cameras, Aboutaleb said.

Pictures from the scene showed at least one police car in flames and another with a bicycle slamming through the windshield.

The riot police and a water cannon restored calm after midnight.

It was one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the Netherlands since corona restrictions were first introduced last year. In January, rioters also attacked police and set fire to the streets of Rotterdam after a curfew came into force.

Riots broke out during a protest in Rotterdam against coronavirus restrictions and plans to restrict the access of unvaccinated people to certain companies. (Jeffrey Groeneweg / ANP / AFP via Getty Images)

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus condemned the events.

“The riots and the extreme violence against police officers, riot police and firefighters last night in Rotterdam are disgusting to watch,” he said in a statement.

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

Police units from across the country ran to Rotterdam to help bring Friday night’s situation under control. Local media reported that gangs of football hooligans were involved in the riots.

Video from social media shown on the Dutch TV station NOS appeared to show a person being shot in Rotterdam, but there was no immediate word on what happened.

Police said in a tweet that it was “still unclear how and by whom” the person was apparently shot.

An independent investigation into the police shooting was launched, as is the case every time Dutch police use their weapons.

The government has said it wants to introduce a law that will allow companies to limit the country’s coronavirus passport system to only people who have been fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 – which will exclude people who test negative.

The country has seen a record number of infections in recent days, and a new partial shutdown took effect a week ago.

The local political party Leefbaar Rotterdam condemned the violence in a tweet.

“The center of our beautiful city has this evening been transformed into a war zone,” it read. “Rotterdam is a city where one can disagree with things that are happening, but violence is never, never, the solution.”

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