As I mentioned a few days ago, the mayor of The Hague refused to allow a festival against corona restrictions to happen today (see article from nltimes.nl). This was because the expected attendance grew from 100 to 10,000 and the organization billed it more as an “event” than a demonstration, including having DJs along with speakers. And since events aren’t allowed right now, it was only logical that it would not be allowed.
But as you might expect, this doesn’t stop everyone from showing up. There were about 10 arrests earlier this morning, of a group who refused to leave when the police requested that they do so. Some of the sticking points include the fact that the city has held two Black Lives Matter festivals in the last few weeks and that the Netherlands was poised to sign a corona measures law to replace the current emergency ordinances we have in place that are due to expire soon. That law has since been delayed amid some controversy that it impedes on fundamental rights (it would have even given police power over situations in private housing). See also this article from dutchnews.nl.
Around lunchtime the number of demonstrators had increased to a few hundred and everyone was asked to leave the Malieveld, including people sunbathing or exercising. Most of the demonstrators moved to the edges of the Malieveld but did not leave. A few hours later there are a few thousand people at the demonstration. The mayor did allow them to demonstrate until 13:30, but considering he said that around 13:05 or 13:10, I can see why that annoyed a lot of people.
Duizenden betogers nemen Malieveld over, politie sluit Binnenhof en winkelgebied af from ad.nl. ‘Thousands of protestors take over Malieveld; police close off Binnenhof and the central shopping area’. However the number of protestors does vary by news site. The police also described the area as ‘tense’ a while ago while local news reporters said it was fairly relaxed. So it does depend on where you get are getting your sources from.
Closing the Binnenhof is fairly standard procedure to prevent demonstrators from going there, and I don’t think the shopping area is closed in the city centre, more that they are keeping a close eye on who is entering it to make sure demonstrators don’t enter. (As much as possible – there are reports of demonstrators with ‘stop the lockdown’ shirts and demonstrators handing out flowers to random shoppers.) Oh, and I also saw a photo of group of demonstrators with ‘free hugs’ shirts on, which is no doubt done on purpose in these corona times. I also saw on Twitter that people were being encouraged to celebrate Father’s Day by having a picnic on the Malieveld.
At this point (around 14:30), some people have begun to leave the area. However football supporters have arrived (see the tweet above) and the police are asking people not to go to the city centre anymore. There’s also at least one helicopter flying overhead. With that being said – demonstrations in the Netherlands are peaceful, and it makes sense that emotions will boil over in this situation, on both sides.
The local news site does have a live stream (for now) on YouTube. They do report that the connection is a bit spotty at times.