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Defying ban, thousands protest in Amsterdam against lockdown rules

Police clash with demonstrators as thousands of people defied a ban to gather and protest the Dutch government's coronavirus lockdown measures, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, January 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Police clash with demonstrators as thousands of people defied a ban to gather and protest the Dutch government's coronavirus lockdown measures, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, January 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

AMSTERDAM — Thousands of people in the Netherlands defy a ban on assembling and demonstrate against the Dutch government’s coronavirus lockdown measures, gathering on a central square before marching toward a park in Amsterdam.

A small group of demonstrators briefly clash with riot police as officers work to clear the crowd from Museum Square based on an order from Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema. Reporters at the scene see at least one person being detained.

The local government had outlawed the protest, saying police had indications some demonstrators might be planning to attend “prepared for violence.” The municipality later issued an emergency order for people to leave the square, and riot police march across the grass to clear the area, sending the demonstrators into nearby streets.

Before officers moved in, some participants unfurled a banner that read, “Less repression, more care” near the Van Gogh Museum. A group of people in white overalls and white masks held up signs, including one that said: “It’s not about a virus, it’s about control” on one side and “Freedom” on the other. One person walked through the crowd carrying a “Trump 2024” flag.

There was a heavy police presence on the square and in nearby streets. The municipality designated the area as a security risk region, giving police the authority to frisk people preventatively.

After marching through the city, demonstrators began gathering at a western Amsterdam park for a rally of the populist Forum for Democracy party.

The demonstration came on the same day Dutch police said they would take action to protest the increasing demands of their work. Union representatives have said riot police would continue to work, if necessary.

Coronavirus infection rates have been gradually decreasing for weeks in the Netherlands, which re-introduced lockdown measures in November and tightened them further during the holiday season.

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