Empty roads during curfew; meanwhile riots escalate in Urk

The first curfew went into effect on Saturday evening. The Ministry of Infrastructure reported that the roads were indeed empty. “There is no question of traffic congestions. It is very quiet. People just adhered to being home by 9 p.m.,” said a spokesperson. Still, in a few areas, people did not stick to the rules. Notably, in Urk in Flevoland, riots broke out.

Protesters, who were against the new corona measures, set fire to a GGD coronavirus test site. Several demonstrators threw fireworks and bottles of beer at police officers. An emergency order was issued.

The municipality of Urk, the police, and the public prosecution service announced that they were “very indignant about the events” on Saturday. “Tonight, a group of rioters was active that disrupted the peace in Urk. With behavior that cannot be expressed in words. From throwing stones to destroying police cars and the low point of setting fire to the GGD test site,” they write in a joint press release.

The burning of the test site was the cumulation of months of unrest. The situation spiraled out of control, leading to agitated several hours in the town.

A police dog attacked one protester who resisted his arrest. Screaming in pain, the young man from Urk was taken away. This was one of many arrests.

Mayor Cees van den Bos announced on Twitter that he was ashamed. “Dramatic the way this evening is going now. I am ashamed of these events.” Last year he stated that the riots had “damaged the image of Urk.” When the riots continued, he lamented in December that “this is no longer Urk.”

Equally, in some other parts of the country, the curfew was not adhered to. On Saturday evening, the police arrested twelve young people in the village of Stein in Limburg. More arrests have not been ruled out, announced the police.

Reportedly, the youngsters took to the streets, played loud music, and drank alcohol. At least a hundred young people had gathered in the center around 9 p.m. From there, they marched through the streets chanting “dictatorship.” They were addressed by someone with a megaphone who said, “today is the first day that we let you know that we are done.” The protestors also lit fireworks with which they attacked the police.

The police struggled to bring the situation on the control and had to call in the riot control unit. What followed was a game of ‘cat and mouse’, in which the police with long batons ran through the streets and groups of protestors repeatedly managed to escape via side streets. The calm returned around 11 p.m.

The police are not satisfied with the behavior of the young people. “It is incomprehensible that despite the health crisis and the measures that have been taken, people deliberately come together and deliberately try to escalate the situation,” said general commander Bert Vermariën of the police.

Fines in Zaltbommel
At a large-scale police check on the A2 near Zaltbommel in Gelderland, 45 fines were issued. The penalties were given to people who did not have a valid reason for leaving their homes after 9 p.m. The find for violating the curfew is 95 euros.