SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Rotterdam mayor Achmed Aboutaleb has spoken directly to the hundred or so youths involved in Monday evening’s riot, asking them if they now ‘feel happy’ with themselves.
Over 50 people were arrested after going on the rampage in the south of the city, smashing windows and looting shops. ‘Do you feel good, now you have caused havoc in your city, that you have caused damage to your city’s shopkeepers?’ Aboutaleb said. ‘Does it feel good to wake up next to a bag full of stolen things?’
Aboutaleb also appealed to parents. ‘Did you miss your son?’ he said. ‘Did you ask where he was. Did you ring him and tell him to come home because it was 9pm?
De dag na de geweldsuitbarsting in Zuid, de stad ruimt de scherven op. Bgm Aboutaleb spreekt de relschoppers en ouders toe, steekt ondernemers een hart onder de riem. En dankt de politie en diensten voor hun inzet. pic.twitter.com/5vMi3iCJRE — B en W Rotterdam (@College010) January 26, 2021
Aboutaleb, who is known for his plain speaking, goes on to tell the city’s businessmen and women that they will be helped. ‘We are going to support you and help you to make a new start,’ he said.
‘Because we won’t give up.’ Elsewhere, local mayors have been evoking their emergency powers to nip any violence on Tuesday evening in the bud. In Den Bosch, city officials say people have been placing messages on social media calling for more trouble, and some shop keepers have begun boarding up their windows.
The city’s mayor Jack Mikkers has also called on parents to keep their children home. Enschede and Amsterdam’s mayors made similar appeals. The youngest of the 184 rioters arrested on Monday evening was 14.
Prime minister Mark Rutte has issued a second statement describing the rioting as ‘criminal violence’. De rellen hebben niets te maken met protesteren of strijden voor de vrijheid. We moeten samen de strijd tegen het virus winnen, want alleen zo krijgen we onze vrijheid terug. — Mark Rutte (@MinPres) January 26, 2021
These riots are nothing to do with protests or fighting for freedom, he said. ‘We have to defeat the virus together, because that is the only way we will get our freedom back.’
CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra said there would be no turning back on the curfew. ‘We’re not going to capitulate for a few idiots,’ he said. The first of the rioters to face criminal proceedings will be in court for a fast-track hearing on Wednesday.