Criticism quickly erupted on social media when Saturday afternoon’s demonstration on Museumplein got off to a cold start or when a call was already heard through the megaphone. “The mayor has issued an emergency order,” he said. The demonstrators had to leave the square and were forced towards the Concertgebouw. The demo was just over ten minutes old.
Reference was made on Twitter to Halsema’s earlier statements about demonstrations. For example, a video appeared online in which the mayor indicated in talk show Op1, shortly after the demonstration against police violence in America in May last year, that ‘the right to demonstrate has been given’.
“You don’t even have to request that. You have to report it, but if you have not reported it, you can still demonstrate. ” A furious Halsema – who came to take a look at Dam Square herself at the demonstration where many supporters of Black Lives Matter were present at the time – dismissed comments on her performance as ‘childish’ at the time. Halsema has said more. That should also apply to the #Museumplein ”, a Twitterer responds to the video. Halsema says it here himself. You don’t even have to request a demonstration ”, says another.
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The right of demonstration sometimes weighs more heavily, according to Halsema, than rules laid down in emergency regulations to keep a minimum distance of one and a half meters during corona time. “That is certainly necessary in a period when the government is appropriating a lot of power,” she also said. “For many people, demonstration is their last line of defense.”
And also, after the BLM demo against the Amsterdam city broadcaster AT5: “In principle you have to implement laws, but you can decide what to prioritize in enforcement and what not to.”
That the demonstration against corona measures was immediately suppressed on Saturday is clearly bad blood. Halsema is accused of hypocrisy and arbitrariness. The procession of demonstrators was soon forced into the city from Museumplein. It was shortly after a water cannon had hit the protesters a few times.
The municipality indicated that the emergency order that had been issued also applied to other locations. “A dynamic demonstration is prohibited. This means that people are not allowed to demonstrate in this place and in this form. Go home.”
On the Leidsekade, the group of many hundreds of people – even a thousand people were mentioned – were immediately enclosed from all sides. It was soon announced that the demonstrators on this quay were put on buses and spread over different parts of the city. They had nowhere to go.
In the past, too, the mayor has been much more generous and understanding when it came to demonstrating by people who can only make their voices heard in this way – that last line of defense she talked about.
‘Removed from the PvdA’
In an interview with Vrij Nederland at the end of 1997, Halsema – then still affiliated with the PvdA – even said that he had said goodbye to that party after arresting five hundred people at the European top, shortly before.
“At that moment I felt so far removed from the PvdA,” she said in the interview. “A left party should have an affinity with people from the counter-movement and people on the political margins. It turned out to be absent. ” That is now being thrown at her by many. “You wouldn’t say it if you look around the #Museumplein today, but this is why Femke Halsema ended her PvdA membership in 1997,” someone tweeted, referring to that interview.
In a press release, the municipality of Amsterdam announced on Saturday evening that anyone in Amsterdam is allowed to demonstrate, as long as the participants meet the conditions that apply to protect public health and to prevent disruptions to public order.
“The triangle wants to emphasize that demonstrating is a fundamental right and that is facilitated every time as well as possible in Amsterdam. It is clear that, despite the agreements made earlier, this organization knowingly did not want to fulfill them. ”