Some international media, and even Mr Nils Melzer at the UN [Special Rapporteur on Torture] have started to report about police brutality in the Netherlands. The immediate reason for this was an incident that happened in Amsterdam on January 2, 2022. A little bit confusing about it was that the accompanying illustrations did not come from that city or that date, but from March 14, 2021 in The Hague. Extra confusing for non-Dutch people is that officially our capital is Amsterdam, while both government and parliament reside in The Hague.
I had heard about and saw images of police brutality in relation to prior protests, mostly against Covid-related government policies. That was the reason why I traveled to The Hague on March 14, to witness what really happened on those occasions.
I took a number of photos and short video clips there. Going back home I felt really impressed and produced some ‘tweets’ about what I saw the next day.
But only after the recent events in Amsterdam I took another look at my material from March 14 and was surprised how much could be deduced from my material when I focused more on the timestamps and when I included the information later in the news about the specific cases of police brutality. The videos published after the events in Amsterdam also highlighted an aspect of what happened in The Hague before. I did notice it back then, but was not in the right place at the right time to catch it on video or photo. But others captured it shockingly clear in Amsterdam: the aspect of police officers in jeans provoking protestors.
The demonstration in The Hague was planned to be on the Malieveld, just a few hundred meters from the central railway station of the city. The mayor of the city was informed about it before, and he had not tried to forbid it. I arrived early that day. The first thing I saw, leaving the station was a massive presence of police. They were on foot, on bicycles, on horsebacks in vehicles: both normal police vans and armored ones.
And the road to the Malieveld was blocked!
Like many hundreds of others, I had to make a detour of about one mile. Take note: we were not ordered or adviced to leave the city. Looking back, my detour made a great added value. See my first photos I made between 13:18, and 13:31.
At the last of these you can see the military-style water cannon, at that moment still before the police office.
On my first video of that day, time stamp 13:34:50, you can see not one but two ‘command centre containers’. Yes, the preparation was really thorough!
On the next video, timestamp 13:37:21, still not on the Malieveld yet, you can hear the wailing sirens and see nervous policemen running.
Around twenty minutes later I finally arrived at the Malieveld. In The Netherlands this grass covered area is most famous because of the biggest demonstration ever in the country. In 1985 over half a million people gathered to protest Tomahawk cruise missiles.
On arriving I saw this message board on a trailer, showing the text: ”Go home, too many people here”.
However, the police made absolutely no effort to stop people from walking to the middle of the field, where -with just a couple of thousand people, among those many elderly women with yellow umbrellas- we did not look like a very big crowd!
A couple of times the crowd cheered loudly: when several groups of some extra hundreds arrived. Afterwards I learned that those groups were in nearby parts of the city and were actively driven to the Malieveld by the police! [both photos are from 14:20]
On the video with timestamp 14:34:05 we still see nothing but love and peace, but an hour later, things start to change.
I heard from more experienced demonstrators, that the police would now soon start using violence.
I decided to leave.
But then the real revelations came.
Many more police, all of them in riot gear, were now surrounding the area. If yoou listen carefully you can already hear the barking of the police dogs.
I addressed one of these men that reminded me of the movie Robocop. He did answer in a normal voice. He claimed that an order had already been given to leave the Malieveld. And in some distorted way he was telling the truth: on the message board near us he and I now could read that order. The people in the middle of the field, however, most certainly could not!
He also told me that I was not allowed to go to the railway station right away. Again I was commanded to make a detour. A detour that guaranteed that I would be longer on the Malieveld, albeit on the sidewalk beside it.
With many hundreds I complied and we now witnessed what had been the plan from the beginning: deployment of horseback police and the water cannon. Not driving the people -still mostly women- from the field towards the station. They were driven in that same direction where I was explicitly forbidden to go and now they were awaited by policemen with dogs. They were being punished.
Enters the usage of police dogs. I saw many photos and several videos of the incident but was a few hundred meters from these horrific scenes myself.
The mayor came with information about the police brutality a couple of days later: the man that was bitten and beaten most fanatically now was accused of having brought a homemade weapon. Other accusations of violence against the police included a person who threw an umbrella towards a police horse … Photos were shown of that homemade weapon: it looked really nasty and many people were pleased to hear that this worst harassment ‘had a good reason’, so possibly the other cases could be justified, including hitting a woman by deliberately driving against her with an armored police vehicle.
But this was not the end of that part of the story. Later the police informed the press that the homemade weapon was NOT brought to the Malieveld by the victim of police brutality.
Several media reported about it. In a most peculiar way!
For example the “AD” (Algemeen Dagblad) here: https://www.ad.nl/binnenland/agent-blijkt-vreemd-wapen-van-relschopper-malieveld-achteraf-per-abuis-zelf-te-hebben-gemaakt-br~ac6767b4/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F
In Dutch it says: “Agent blijkt vreemd wapen van relschopper Malieveld achteraf per abuis zelf te hebben gemaakt”. The title shows an absolutely appalling way of abusing the Dutch language, but from the article it is possible to deduce what is ‘reported’ here: “In hindsight it turns out that the strange weapon of a rioter on the Malieveld was by mistake made by a police officer”.
Please do fact-check my translation as much as you can.
And then let this sink in please.
Especially the part “.. made by mistake .. “.
Imagine being a judge and this would be brought forward by a government lawyer: the judge would have given a warning about showing contempt for the court. Well, supposing the judge was an old fashioned one.
BTW, that ‘information’ came out seven weeks after the incident. Later we were informed that two police officers indeed were now under investigation …
Fast forward to Amsterdam, January 2022. In the beginning of 2021 there had been demonstrations that were answered by (less severe) police brutality, but this stopped in the summer. In the autumn there were several demonstrations of tens of thousands of people where the police were not provoking, even hardly intimidating and there was absolutely not a single incident with a violent overtone. The Dutch press that in general strongly supported the government that had resigned earlier in 2021, did criticize the demonstrators otherwise: a few among those tenth of thousands wore signs that showed bad taste.
In the winter the policy of the left wing mayor of Amsterdam, had completely changed once again. Now the demonstration was outright forbidden. Similar to the scenario, created in March in The Hague, the demonstrators were not blocked from gathering on the Museumplein. After a while they were ordered however to leave that area and they were driven to the place with the most intimidating police presence. Then from behind the line of regular police, a group of ‘police officers in jeans’ ran to the demonstrators to start violence. When their provocation succeeded, they withdrew behind the regular cops again.
There are several videos like this one:
BTW: a couple of days before the demonstration in Amsterdam a police union announced a strike. Some of the policemen in jeans -their semi-official name is ‘Romeos’, their informal name is PPU, Police Provocation Unit– had signs on their ‘uniforms’ suggesting they came from Rotterdam. It will take a huge effort to find out what was behind those two aspects and if they were correlated.