3 Nights of Curfew, and the Riots Are Getting Worse

Netherlands police stretched thin as authorities blame violent people for hijacking protests
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2021 10:00 AM CST
COVID Riots Intensify in the Netherlands
Firefighters extinguish a vehicle set on fire by rioters in Haarlem, Netherlands.   (Mizzle Media via AP)

The Netherlands put a coronavirus curfew into effect on Saturday, and police have had their hands full with rioters for three consecutive nights now, reports the Guardian. Nearly 200 were arrested in cities large and small Monday night, though authorities say the demonstrations have become more about young people causing mayhem than disagreements over COVID safety protocols. "What motivated these people has nothing to do with protesting," says Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, per NPR. "It's criminal violence and we will treat it as such." A Dutch criminologist says the original protests have been "hijacked" by people "knowingly and intentionally" looking to stoke violence, per the Guardian. Authorities say demonstrators are using social apps to organize in advance.

"Does it feel good to wake up with a bag full of stolen stuff next to you?" Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb asked rioters on social media, per the AP. And to their parents, he asked, "Did you miss your son yesterday? Did you ask yourself where he was?" Police say they'll use photos and videos posted online to hunt down those responsible for looting and violence. While the rate of new infections in the Netherlands has been on a slight decline of late, authorities put the new restrictions in place in part to guard against new mutations spreading quickly around the world, reports the AP. The country of more than 17 million people has recorded more than 13,650 COVID deaths so far. (Read more Netherlands stories.)

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