Dutch braced for fourth night of carnage

The Netherlands is preparing for the fourth night in a row of anti-lockdown riots. Eight cities have been placed in a state of emergency.

Several cities were looted on Monday night as rioters threw rocks and fireworks at police, setting fire to rubbish bins and cars. 180 people were arrested taking the total since Saturday up to 470.

According to the National Police’s spokesperson, police officers are being targeted. Ten policemen were in injured in Rotterdam on Monday, where 60 arrests were made, and a hospital was attacked. In Eindhoven, the city’s mayor described the chaos as “civil war”, comments echoed by hard-right leader, Geert Wilders who wants to see the army brought in.

The police are confident of making hundreds more arrests in the coming weeks using footage from CCTV cameras.

“They will not get away so easily. Those who have been arrested will be tried without delay and it will be imprisonment,” said Minister of Justice, Ferd Grapperhaus on Tuesday.

National Police spokeswoman Suzanne van de Graaf said: “We have had riots in the past, but it’s rare to have this for several nights across the entire country.”

“It’s not only in known problem areas, but much more widespread.”

The riots began with Saturday’s curfew to combat Covid-19, the first since the second world war. Infections have fallen by 8% in recent weeks, but the Netherlands’ National Institute for Health insists people stay in their homes to limit the spread of the hyper contagious strain of the virus first detected in the UK.

The police have told parents to stop their teenage children going out, warning that they could find themselves with a criminal record and obliged to pay for the damage they cause.

The Public Prosecution Service is doubling down on damage to property, threatening to seize personal belongings like designer clothing and scooters.

“We believe that entrepreneurs should be compensated and, in our opinion, those responsible pay back every cent in damage,” said Heleen Rutgers, a prosecutor.  

The authorities are also concerned about the way social media is being used to mobilise violent demonstrations.

“It is not always visible to parents what is happening online, but [they should] talk about it and prevent major problems,” said Anja Schouten, police chief of the North Holland region. “That contact is really part of the solution.”

Schouten bluntly urged those parents “who have no control over their children” to contact Dutch social services.

The authorities also tracked social media campaigns encouraging people to come over the Belgian border to “make a mess” and are investigating.

The situation is not helped by the collapse last week of the Netherlands’ Government following a scandal over childcare payments.