Rotterdam mayor slams violent COVID-19 protests, scores arrested

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THE HAGUE, Nov 20 (Reuters) – The mayor of Rotterdam on Saturday condemned “an orgy of violence” at protests against COVID-19 measures in the Dutch port city, in which seven people were wounded and more than 20 arrested.

Crowds of several hundred rioters torched cars, set off fireworks and threw rocks at police during the protests on Friday evening. Police responded with warning shots and water canons.

“Police were forced to draw their weapons and even fire direct shots,” Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told a press conference early on Saturday.

Asked to characterize the event, Aboutaleb said it was “an orgy of violence, I can’t think of another way to describe it.”

Authorities said they had arrested more than 20 people and expected to detain others, as the city centre where the riots took place is extensively monitored by security cameras.

Protestors had gathered to voice opposition to government plans to restrict access to indoor venues to people who have a “corona pass”, showing they have been vaccinated or have already recovered from an infection.

The pass is also available to people who have not been vaccinated, but have proof of a negative test.

The Netherlands re-imposed some lockdown measures last weekend for an initial three weeks in an effort to slow a resurgence of coronavirus contagion, but daily infections have remained at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

Authorities reported a record of more than 23,000 new cases on Thursday, well above the previous daily high of 13,000 reached in December 2020.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; editing by Jane Wardell)

Photo – A person looks at a damaged police car after a protest against the ‘2G policy’ turned into riots, with protesters setting fires in the street and destroying police cars and street furniture. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered on Coolsingel earlier that evening because they disagree with the 2G policy, which refers to the two Dutch words for vaccinated and recovered. EPA-EFE/VLN NIEUWS

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