Riots grip Dutch cities for a second night over Covid-19 curfew

Police in Rotterdam use a water cannon and tear gas in an attempt to disperse protesters

Groups of youths confronted police in Dutch towns and cities on Monday night, defying the country’s Covid-19 curfew and throwing fireworks, news wires reported. Police in the port city of Rotterdam used a water cannon and tear gas in an attempt to disperse a crowd of rioters who also looted shops.

Police and local media reported trouble in the capital Amsterdam, where at least eight people were arrested, Haarlem, where vandals set a large fire in a street, The Hague and other towns before and after the 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. curfew began.

It was the second night of unrest in towns and cities across the Netherlands that initially grew out of calls to protest against the country’s tough lockdown, but degenerated into vandalism by crowds whipped up by messages swirling on social media.

Rotterdam police said youths took to the streets “seeking a confrontation with police.” Riot officers attempted to break up the violence and made a number of arrests, before firing tear gas. Police warned people to stay away from the area. National broadcaster NOS showed video of police using a water cannon and reported that some shops had been looted.

Police in the southern city of Den Bosch said that a shop was looted there and riot police were attempting to restore order.

In the southern town of Geleen, police tweeted that youths in the downtown area were throwing fireworks. Riot police charged at protesters in The Hague.

Dutch media reported calls on social media for further violent protests even as the country struggles to contain new coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

“It is unacceptable,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said earlier Monday of rioting Sunday. “This has nothing to do with protesting, this is criminal violence and that’s how we’ll treat it,” he pointed out.

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