netherlands lockdown protest
© Reuters / Eva Plevier
A police officer holds a dog during a protest against Covid-19 restrictions in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on January 24, 2021.
Some 240 people have been arrested as unrest spread to at least 10 municipalities across the Netherlands, with riot police using water cannons, batons, dogs and horses to break up unauthorized anti-lockdown gatherings and riots.

Police faced off with curfew-defying crowds in The Hague, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Enschede, Venlo, Stein, Roermond, Oosterhout, Breda and elsewhere across the nation for the second day in a row on Sunday.

At least 190 people, including minors, were detained in Amsterdam alone, where some 1,500 protesters gathered at the central Museum Square, according to local media.


Eindhoven lockdown protest
© Rob Engelaar / ANP / AFP
A car has been set on fire in front of the train station in Eindhoven, January 24, 2021


While most of the demonstrators were peaceful, some sitting on a field with their banners, authorities declared the entire gathering was illegal under the current Covid lockdown rules, and police forcefully dispersed it using water cannons and batons.

In Eindhoven, hundreds of protesters clashed with police, pelting fireworks and rocks at officers and police vans, while mounted cops charged the crowd and used tear gas against the demonstrators.

Meanwhile, a group of rioters in Enschede tried to smash windows at the Medisch Spectrum Twente, forcing the hospital to request additional security.


Later in the evening, multiple fires were burning in the streets of The Hague, with rioters reportedly setting a police motorcycle ablaze after forcing an officer to flee.



The mayor of Venlo was forced to issue an emergency order, after an unruly mob roamed the streets smashing storefronts, shooting fireworks and throwing stones.


Dutch Royal Military police were deployed to contain the unrest in Stein and Roermond.

Multiple acts of vandalism were also reported in Oosterhout.


Authorities in neighboring Breda and Tilburg both issued emergency decrees, giving police more power to restore public order.


Previously, following clashes on Saturday night, police arrested 25 people, while 3,600 more were fined for violating the lockdown orders.


Woman knocked over & left bleeding after water cannon fires from close

netherlands lockdown protests
© REUTERS/Eva Plevier
Police uses a water canon during a protest against restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Amsterdam, Netherlands January 24, 2021.
In one video purportedly filmed during the skirmish, a woman and a man can be seen walking past a police vehicle armed with a water cannon. The man turns toward the vehicle and raises his arm, possibly pointing a phone or camera at the police. The water cannon then immediately aims at the pair and fires, hitting the woman. The impact knocks her hat off as she's pushed into the side of a building and then falls to the ground.


Comment: Water cannons are banned in some countries precisely because of the serious injuries they can cause.



Footage taken moments later shows the man leading the injured woman away from the area, one side of her face covered in blood. The man is seen briefly turning towards the water cannon and cursing the police as he escorts the woman to safety.

The clip is one of many startling scenes caught on camera during Sunday's nationwide unrest. In The Hague, rioters reportedly set a police motorcycle ablaze after forcing an officer to flee.

Dutch PM condemns turbulent anti-curfew protests as 'criminal violence', says restrictions will remain in place

The freshly imposed and poorly received nighttime curfew must stay to curb the spread of Covid-19, Dutch PM Mark Rutte has said, condemning protests against it as "criminal violence" and vowing to treat participants accordingly.


Comment: The PM would know about criminality, considering his entire government recently quit over a tax subsidy scandal.


The new restrictions came into force over the weekend, triggering a wave of violent protests across the Netherlands. Speaking to reporters in The Hague on Monday, Rutte condemned the unrest, insisting it was not a proper protest.

"This has nothing to do with protest, this is criminal violence and we will treat it as such," Rutte stated, as he reiterated the need for the restrictions.

The country entered its very first curfew since WWII on Saturday night. The rules have been immediately broken at several locations, with the protesters even torching a Covid-19 testing site.

The violence grew throughout Sunday and spread across the country. In the capital city of Amsterdam, an unauthorized mass protest promptly devolved into clashes between the anti-curfew crowd and law enforcement, with protesters attempting to erect barricades in the streets, setting objects on fire, and pelting the officers with various projectiles.

While Netherlands authorities employed a more relaxed approach to handling the pandemic compared to most countries around the world throughout 2020, the situation changed back in December, when Covid-19 cases rose and the government began to roll out stricter measures.

The coronavirus tally in the country, whose population stands at over 17 million, is steadily approaching the one million mark, while over 13,500 people have already succumbed to the disease.