Mar 11, 2023 at 9:20 PMUpdate: 21 minutes ago
The police made 700 arrests during the Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate action in The Hague. Despite a ban by the municipality of The Hague, the climate activists managed to block the A12 / Utrechtsebaan on Saturday. At the same time, a little further on in the Zuiderpark there was a farmers’ protest against the nitrogen policy. That protest went quieter and one person was arrested.
In addition to the hundreds of arrests, four demonstrators have also become unwell during the climate action. They were helped by the ambulance service. Fourteen demonstrators came by for medical checks and care in a tent set up by the fire brigade and relief organization GHOR Haaglanden.
Activists blocked A12 despite ban
The municipality had forbidden the climate activists to block the important traffic artery, but was unable to prevent a few thousand activists from entering the Utrechtsebaan on Saturday afternoon and sitting at the entrance to the tunnel.
Two water throwers borrowed from Germany were ready at the demonstration, but they were not used during the day. The police had called on the climate activists to leave “before dark”. A number of activists responded to the police’s call to leave, but a large part of the demonstrators decided to remain in three groups, NU.nl reporter Jeroen Kraan saw on the spot. A few people climbed trees and lampposts.
XR activists sit down to be arrested. Photo: NU.nl/Jeroen Kraan
Water throwers deployed
At 5.10 pm the water thrower (on mist mode) was deployed against the thousands of activists who were still present on the A12/Utrechtsebaan. Beforehand, the police had actively urged vulnerable people, such as minors and disabled people, to leave.
Initially, the demonstrators were not sprayed with a hard jet, but they were made quite wet. “We do this to peacefully discourage activists from staying there,” said a police spokesman. To prevent hypothermia, the fire brigade had set up a tent on the Zuid Hollandlaan for dry clothing and a medical check.
When spraying water, the activists cheered and some even deliberately sought out the water jet. Many demonstrators on the road also had ponchos with them. Earlier, the demonstrators tried to block the water cannon. In a speech, an activist called for people to lie down and protect their heads when the water cannon was deployed.
Half an hour later, at around 5:40 p.m., a third water thrower was deployed and the protesters were sprayed with a harder jet. According to the police, a number of activists lay down in front of the water thrower and tried to chain themselves to it. The police managed to prevent this.
Just before 7 p.m., police began arresting the remaining climate activists. They were put on buses.
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Friendly atmosphere during the day
Thousands of XR activists attended the climate action. They protested against subsidies for fossil projects. According to XR, the Netherlands spends about 17.5 billion euros on this every year and this stands in the way of effective policy against climate change. The atmosphere was pleasant during the day, NU.nl reporter Jeroen Kraan reported. “It’s fun and there’s a lot of playing.”
The A12/Utrechtsebaan partially reopened in the afternoon. Only the last part, near the Malieveld, remained closed due to the sitdown action of the XR activists.
Farmers are campaigning for social problems
It was a busy demonstration day in The Hague on Saturday, because the farmers also demonstrated in the Zuiderpark. They came together there for the protest of Farmers Defense Force (FDF) and Together for the Netherlands.
With the action, the demonstrators wanted to express farmers’ views on nitrogen policy and the forced buy-out of farmers. They also demonstrated for other social problems, FDF said earlier, such as the surcharge scandal and the gas crisis in Groningen.
Thousands of people gathered in the park. Many of them had inverted Dutch flags, red farmer’s handkerchiefs and heart balloons. On the field, two tractors stood near the stage.
More tractors were not allowed to enter the city by the municipality. The organization called on the demonstrators to take their rubbish with them when they left. They want to leave the field clean.
Shovel driver arrested
Around 11:30 a procession with a shovel and fourteen trucks entered the park. These vehicles were lined up along the field where the demonstrators are standing. The shovel driver has been arrested for breaking through a police cordon. The driver resisted his arrest. Two officers suffered minor injuries.
The police said that trucks without a permit at the Zuiderpark will be fined. Officers walked past the trucks and handed out fines.
Around noon there was a brief commotion along the field. Another person was also arrested. The Red Cross on site says that there have been no further incidents. The last farmers left for home around 4.30 pm.