WATCH Dutch riot police fire water cannon to disperse rally against coronavirus restrictions, dozens arrested

Dutch police have cracked down on a protest against coronavirus restrictions in The Hague. Water cannon and mounted police were deployed to break up the crowd, and around 100 people were arrested according to local media.

Only a small demonstration was permitted by the local authorities, but large crowds defied the restrictions and flocked to The Hague’s Malieveld, a large grass field in the city center traditionally used for mass gatherings.

Police responded with force, using truck-mounted water cannon to push the demonstrators back, while officers on horseback charged at the crowd.

At one point a police bus appeared to be driving through the field to scare away protesters.

There have been reports of direct clashes between angry protesters and riot police.

The city authorities initially banned the anti-lockdown rally after concluding that too many people would show up and social distancing would not be observed, according to local media.

In a surprise change of heart, Mayor Johan Remkes announced that a small time-limited protest would be allowed, if the number of demonstrators were kept relatively low. However, at least 2,000 participants showed up, and police moved in to clear the area.

On Saturday, the same site was used for a “Black Lives Matter” event, which went ahead without police interference.

Twitter users have been asking why the police chose to crack down on Sunday’s rally, but took no action the day before.

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