Amsterdam fears violence from Covid protests on Sunday; Establish stop and search zones

Amsterdam city leaders and local police and prosecution departments designated several locations as risk areas on Sunday. The locations are where protesters will gather under the banner “Commemorating the Battle of Coffee”, a reference to the January 17, 2021 protest that turned into a riot.

Police believe people will try again to bring illegal fireworks and weapons to protests on Sunday. To ensure that the event takes place safely, Oosterpark, Westerpark and the Olympic Stadium, the gathering places for participants, as well as Museumplein, have been designated as a risk zone. This means that everyone in these areas can be randomly searched as a precaution.

The municipality said agreements had been made “in close consultation with the organization” to ensure the protest was held in a peaceful and responsible manner. “The organizer has distanced himself from groups and individuals who have left for a confrontation with the police,” a statement said.

Mayor Femke Halsema also issued an urgent appeal to protesters to comply with regulations, follow directions from traffic controllers and police, and leave the protest venue if there is a threat of unrest or violence, both for their own safety and that of others. If people don’t follow the rules, the police will intervene.

A prohibited demonstration against the measures against the coronavirus organized on January 17 on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, was reorganized by its organizer as a moment of meeting around a coffee. The thinly veiled attempt to avoid being labeled an illegal protest drew around a thousand people to the area.

Riot police held firm in the area as police received indications that up to 10,000 people were arriving. People came from all over the Netherlands to protest the lockdown, the curfew put in place that month and Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s office. Some have also peddled conspiracy theories about Covid-19, vaccines and 5G mobile networks.

When authorities asked people to leave, many in the crowd refused. The police were authorized to clear the Museumplein and lead people to the surrounding streets. Water cannons, riot police and mounted police pushed into the crowd. Nearly 150 people were arrested in total.

“Among the protesters was a group of 200 to 250 people who were clearly up for confrontation. Bricks were pulled from the street and thrown at the officers. Some also had combat gloves, handguns and fireworks with them,” the city said in a statement that day.

A year later, Nederland in Verzet organized “The commemoration of the battle of coffee”. From three locations in the capital, people will walk to Museumplein on Sunday afternoon to “drink coffee” together.

Participants will gather around noon at the Olympic Stadium, Oosterpark and Westerpark, then walk to Museumplein. From there they will continue through the city together. The organization expects 25,000 to 50,000 people.

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