Organization of housing protest stunned about drone images of police violence: ‘This proves nothing’

The Rotterdam police published drone images of the housing protest on October 17 on Monday. During the demonstration, the police took action on the Erasmus Bridge. Several images of this deployment were made and distributed via social media, which caused a lot of criticism. Police chief Fred Westerbeke says that these images did not show a complete picture of the situation. According to the organization of the housing protest, it proves nothing.

“Incredibly accepting these images as ‘complete’ is unjustified and shows little sign of respect,” says Westerbeke about the images that appeared en masse on social media. Police have posted drone footage online to show where the violence began, according to police. “That is unusual, but the measure is full,” says Westerbeke. According to him, it is clear that a number of protesters provoked the police.

The demonstrative tour started on the Afrikaanderplein and went, among other things, via the Leuvehaven to the Blaak. Forty to fifty demonstrators behaved remarkably, according to the police chief. They had on balaclavas and also wore other face-covering clothes. “They kept themselves apart from the rest of the demonstrators and chanted anti-police slogans. Everything indicated that the group was not looking for a further peaceful course of the demonstration,” says Westerbeke.

Things went wrong at the Erasmus Bridge. The group was surrounded by the police and taken away in a special tram. Eight protesters have been arrested for, among other things, sedition and illegal possession of weapons. “I think it is very important that the right to demonstrate in the Netherlands, and therefore also in Rotterdam, can be exercised freely,” says Westerbeke. ‘What I’m less in favor of is venting your primary reaction after such a demonstration without reading carefully or asking questions. That’s inappropriate. Especially with politicians and the media.” He hopes to use the drone images to show what exactly happened.

‘Bizarre signal’

Sander van der Kraan of the housing protest calls putting the drone images online a ‘bizarre signal’. “I think the police want to cover themselves by sharing the video,” says Van der Kraan. “It is ironic that the police paste a selection of images one after the other and show them. As far as we are concerned, it proves nothing,” he responds. Van der Kraan believes that the police are trying to influence sentiment with this. “Westerbeke does not practice self-reflection and attacks the media and politicians in his story. We are really baffled about this. We think this is a bizarre signal. Demonstration is therefore made difficult for us.”

Coming Wednesday and Thursday, there will be a demonstration against police violence on the Stadhuisplein.