At least two people were injured by police gunfire in the Dutch city of Rotterdam after a protest against the renewal of Covid-19 restrictions turned into a violent riot, seeing protesters set a police car on fire and confront officers.
A large crowd of protesters showed up on Rotterdam’s iconic Coolsingel Street on Friday evening to denounce a new round of pandemic measures, including an ongoing partial lockdown, a ban on New Year’s fireworks, as well as fears that the government impose a ‘2G’ pass system allowing only those vaccinated and those who have recently recovered from the virus to enter a long list of public places.
At least two people were injured during the protest, a local police spokesperson told Reuters, adding that the injuries were “Probably” because of the officers “Warning shots” but also noting that “Direct shots were fired because the situation was life threatening” to the police.
Footage of the heated protest has circulated online, with some footage showing a police car completely on fire after it was apparently set on fire by rioters.
Protesters were also seen throwing fireworks at police, who appeared to respond with copious amounts of tear gas, which at one point blanketed the area.
Local law enforcement noted that officers deployed a mobile riot control unit to Coolsingel and set off water cannons at protesters who refused to clear the streets, also noting that some arrests had been made after an emergency order had been issued. imposed to seal off the area.
The Dutch government announced the fireworks ban earlier on Friday, saying it was intended to “Avoid, as much as possible, additional pressure on health care, law enforcement and first responders.” However, although private exhibits are banned, officials said local governments can still stage fireworks as long as their Covid-19 restrictions allow.
The Netherlands currently has a ‘3G’ rule in place, allowing vaccinated people, those recently cured, as well as those who test negative for the virus to enter most public spaces. But as the country remains on a three-week partial lockdown to curb growing infections, authorities are now considering the stricter “2G” regime, sparking the intense protests seen on Friday night.
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