Dutch riot police yesterday intervened to break up an anti-migrant protest in the Brabant village of Heesch which spiralled out of control after stones, fireworks and eggs were thrown at the town hall.
Three of the 1,000 or so people attending the anti-migrant protest were arrested outside the building, while inside councillors were debating improvements to youth social services, reports Dutch News. Eventually the councillors had to be evacuated from the town hall and the local mayor issued an emergency call giving police extra powers to restore public order.
Harm Ruijs, who organised the protest, said what had happened was “a great pity” and distanced himself from the violence, but said he had not changed his standpoint. He told local broadcaster Omroep Brabant his issue is not with asylum seekers in general, but with the specific plans to host a reception centre — known as an AZC in the Netherlands — for 500 of them in Heesch for 10 years.
Mr. Ruijs explained that such a proposal was not “proportionate” for the size of the local community.
The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ronald Plasterk, called the riots “sad” and pledged his full support to the mayor of Heesch and her council. He explained:
“Protesting is part of a democracy but violence damages the essence of our democratic country.”
The local leader of the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, Jack van der Dussen, told BNR Radio that the trouble at the anti-migrant protest came from outside Heesch which has a population of about 12,000.
Mr. van der Dussen said that what had started as a “peaceful protest” organised by local residents was ruined when people from “radical groups” who “mainly come from outside Heesch” showed up.
Last week local police were called to remove two dead pigs from premises near the village which have been identified as a potential refugee centre. One of the pigs had been placed on top of a building intended to hold 500 migrants, another was hung from a tree using a metal chain.