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Riots in Utrecht, the Netherlands

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Wed 14 Mar, 2007 04:13 pm
    Last Monday and yesterday, riots erupted in my old hometown Utrecht, sparked off in the working class neighbourhood of Ondiep. (Ondiep! I really liked Ondiep. A. lived closeby. I lived on walking distance too. I went there with GreenLeft people a few years ago to be guided around by residents to hear about the mass demolition that the city was planning. Demolitions that would destroy any remaining social cohesion and drive the locals out. Joined them to protest the demolitions at the city hall debate about it too.*) [b]What happened?[/b] I doublepost this on the Riots in France thread, because it was in a way how the Paris suburb riots started - in reverse. A middle-aged local white resident was shot by police when it was called out to intervene in a street scuffle between him and (non-white) youths on the street. He died of his injuries. His death triggered these riots, in which mostly white youths turned against police and anything to do with the authorities, but also committed random violence. In the two days, 135 people were arrested. Youths, many of them football supporters/hooligans who had gathered from across the region, went on a rampage, burning cars, smashing windows, and setting fire to a (former) policestation, a community centre, and a local office of the youth crime prevention program - but also a random student's back yard. More to it than that, of course. Thats why, after reading about this, I made a collage from all the English-language accounts I could find of what happened. The result is below. It was an interesting exercise, actually, emphasising the "fog of war" aspect of reporting - did they set fire to one car or more cars? To a police station or a former police station? Were shops looted? Was the copper who shot the man a guy, or a woman of Moroccan origin? Is Ondiep a largely white or an ethnically mixed neighbourhood? (I know that one - it is somewhat ethnically mixed, but largely white. One of those characteristic remaining white working class neighbourhoods.) A special case amongst the sources I found is the version of events told by the (far? right-wing) Brussels Journal, which differs rather drastically from the versions in the other nine articles. Hence why I've sometimes explicited its contribution.
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Sunday

On Sunday night, police shot dead a 54-year-old man, Rini Mulder, local resident of the largely white/ethnically mixed working-class Utrecht neighbourhood of Ondiep.

The man was involved in a row with some young people. The police officer called to the scene felt threatened by the man who was brandishing a knife [or] threatening a police officer with a knife - and shot him dead.

However, local residents told TV reporters that the man himself had called for police help after being harassed by a gang of youths.

A man on the street in Ondiep says he had been friends with Mulder for "almost 30 years." They were involved in the fight on Sunday against a group of 20 young Dutch-Turks that were hanging about the streets. Rini Mulder had left the house determined to "teach a lesson" to the group hanging out there, playing loud music and intimidating local residents.

He says Rini put his hand in the air when police finally arrived. "But he wasn't threatening them. He wanted to indicate that it was he that had called police."

The officer thought he was being threatened and shot Mulder in the chest. "He should have shot into the air, the bastard," says local resident Ali Kwarten.

[Here's the Brussels Journal version of events: "Apparently Mulder intervened when Muslim youths harassed a pregnant native Dutch woman. He was able to grab the knife of one of the youths. When the police arrived Mulder was shot because he had raised the knife. Witnesses say Mulder was indicating to the police that he had called for them." The Brussels Journal also claims that "according to our sources the police officer who killed Mulder is a woman of Moroccan origin"].

The state prosecutor is now investigating the incident.

Monday

Tensions ran high on Monday evening at about 10.00 p.m. It began when a large group of youths [Brussels Journal: "non-immigrant citizens"] went on a rampage through the neighbourhood, throwing stones and setting small fires in "inverted Paris style riots."

Fire was set to a former neighbourhood police office on the Amsterdamseweg and its windows were smashed. A car was set on fire. A community centre was set on fire and destroyed.

[The Brussels Journal version: "After the death of Mulder the indigenous Dutch decided they had had enough and started riots".]

When riot police were brought in, a crowd of more than 500 youths started throwing stones at them on the Boerhaavelaan.

Police arrested two people. One police officer was slightly injured when stones were thrown at a police car.

Many of the young men involved were not neighbourhood residents, according to police. The area was calm by midnight.

Tuesday

On Tuesday night, the city's mayor ordered the neighbourhood sealed off and mandated a curfew to prevent a second night of disturbances. Only residents would be allowed in or out

But gangs of youths gathered in various places around Ondiep. In one incident, stones and bottles were thrown at the police, in another fires were set.

In Ondiep itself there were 60 arrests, mainly for breaking the ban on forming groups in public places, NOS said.

Overall at least 130 people were arrested, both in the city centre and fringes of the neighbourhood Ondiep. Many of those arrested had been throwing stones and bottles at police and others had refused to disperse. The people arrested were taken to police stations in The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Police said the arrests included a number of football supporters from FC Utrecht, Feyenoord, The Hague and Amsterdam Ajax who had come to the city looking for trouble and were arrested for vandalism, violence or disturbing public order. Notices to go to the city had been posted on football fan websites.

Dutch television showed most of the people who ignored the curfew and were arrested were white.

The situation in downtown Utrecht calmed down at about midnight. The supporters seem to have gone home at that point, police reported.

Seven of the people arrested on Tuesday will be brought before the court on Thursday. The other 128 have been released or will be released with a fine.

Wednesday

The neighbourhood will once again be sealed off to non-residents by police tonight. The area has been ringed with fences which will be pulled across all roads later today.

"The municipality has picked up on signals that there will be disturbances in the city on Wednesday again," said a municipal spokesperson.

Utrecht mayor Annie Brouwer and the police will talk with neighbourhood residents in a closed meeting at the Mariakerk this afternoon. A press conference will follow.

A police spokesman told ANP that the area will probably be kept under tight control until after Thursday's march (stille tocht) in memory of the dead man.

Background

The neighbourhood of Ondiep is known for its social problems, and has been designated by the state as a disadvantaged neighbourhood.

The mood in the troubled district has been tense for a long time as hundreds of social apartments are to be replaced by expensive new developments. Urban renewal plans will result in the demolition of most of the homes. Many of the area residents have already moved out.

The neighbourhood is not enthusiastic about the renewal plans. They complain that the new homes planned for the area will be unaffordable for them. "They want richer people here in the neighbourhood," says Willem de Graaf, another resident.

"The neighbourhood is at a difficult point in the renewal," says Rinda den Besten, alderwoman for the neighbourhood." "One in three houses is standing empty at the moment, soon that will be two in three. The situation is going to last for a few months."

Den Besten admits that the neighbourhood will be a mess in the meantime. There is little social control, precisely the kind of situation that plays into the hands of the group that was hanging about the intersection of the Boerhaavelaan and the Thorbeckelaan on Sunday.

It is clear that there is more going on than just rage and sadness over the death of Rini Mulder. "They just don't do anything about the creeps that are ruining this neighbourhood," says resident Ali Kwarten. "That is frustration number one."

"Those cops don't know what they're doing," says Rini Mulder's friend. "They never come when you need them. Just call 112 if things get serious, they say. It's obviously too late then."

[Here's the Brussels Journal's take on things:

"Ondiep residents have been complaining for months about harassment and intimidation by immigrant youths of Moroccan origin. Locals claim the police has failed to protect them for years. They say the authorities are afraid of the immigrants and tolerate their criminal behaviour.

Ondiep is one of the Dutch urban neighbourhoods which seem to have been abandoned by the authorities. It is hardly a surprise that the natives are beginning to fight back.

An official report published last [January] states that the Government has seriously underestimated "tensions between various ethnic and cultural groups of youths." The report says that the Dutch authorities fail to grasp the gravity of the problem.

If nothing is done the country will soon witness situations similar to the French riots of 2005 and 2006 which led to the police abandoning immigrant suburbs to gangs of Muslim youths."]

Follow-up

Parliament will most likely debate the disturbances in the Utrecht neighbourhood of Ondiep next week.

MPs first want a letter from ministers Guusje ter Horst (Home Affairs), Ernst Hirsch Ballin (Justice) and Ella Vogelaar (Living, Neighbourhoods and Integration) about the causes of the riots, the measures taken by the municipality, and the role of the "riot tourists," who came from other cities to get involved in the disturbances.

Parliament asked for this letter at the initiative of Freedom party PVV leader Geert Wilders on Wednesday. Wilders initially wanted an emergency debate on the matter tomorrow but the other factions wanted to give the cabinet more time to come with the information.

-----------------------------------------------

Sources:

DutchNews.nl: Two arrested in Utrecht disturbances
DutchNews.nl: 130 arrests in Utrecht disturbances
Irish Examiner: Dutch police arrest 130 after shooting protest
DPA article: Over 100 Arrests In Riots In Utrecht
Expatica: Utrecht neighbourhood calm after riots
DutchNews.nl: Police to seal Utrecht streets for second night (update)
Expatica: Situation calm in Utrecht
Expatica: Parliament to debate riots
Expatica: Resident wanted to "teach them a lesson"
The Brussels Journal: Utrecht: Ethnic Riots after Dutchman is Killed by Police
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 5,809 • Replies: 29
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Mar, 2007 04:25 pm
What type of neighbourhood is it physically? apartment blocks? small houses?

I'm trying to get a visual sense of it - but I'm mostly googling up swimming pools.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Mar, 2007 04:34 pm
ehBeth wrote:
What type of neighbourhood is it physically? apartment blocks? small houses?

I'm trying to get a visual sense of it - but I'm mostly googling up swimming pools.

Actually, I discovered just now that I once posted about Ondiep here on a2k, though I didnt mention it by name and it was in a most unlikely place - but it should give a good sense:

nimh wrote:
Theres a certain working class neighbourhood here, much of it will be demolished, to make way for new houses, larger houses mostly that will be for sale. The current inhabitants, who now have old, but nice houses with a little garden, will have to move into new highrise blocks on the edge of the neighbourhood or out to the new neighbourhood they're building all the way on the edge of the city. These are people who've often lived there for all their life, some have been there for decades - everyone knows each other, they look out for each other. All the more important cause there is a lot of unemployment, crime etc. City council would rather "clean it up", put them in highrises, build fancy new houses in what is after all quite close to downtown.

Who's sticking up for their rights? Noone. They dont vote anyway - if they do vote, recently, its been for Fortuyn or the like. It used to be solid Labour, but Labour has gone the Dem way [..], plus its in the city government in a coalition with the right, not much it can do. Only party sticking up for them now, ironically, is the Green Left. But what do I find? The Green city council members take their side, but the party rank and file dont seem too interested. [..] Instead [they flock to] actions to preserve green spaces in town [..] or for better bicycle routes
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Mar, 2007 04:40 pm
ah, that helps. thanks!

(a good re-read)
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Mar, 2007 04:51 pm
http://www.mitros.nl/Images/Ondiep/MitrosOndiep_4kastanjestraat1.JPG http://www.mitros.nl/Images/Ondiep/Ondiep%20Zuidzijde.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/nl/thumb/4/41/Ondiep.jpg/300px-Ondiep.jpg

http://www.utrecht.nl/images/DSO/stedenbouw/juridische%20zaken/Bestemmingplannen/Ondiep%20sept06/fot%2002%20200pix.jpg http://www.utrecht.nl/images/DSO/stedenbouw/juridische%20zaken/Bestemmingplannen/Ondiep%20sept06/fot%2003%20200pix.jpg



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http://www.volkskrant.nl/multimedia/archive/00081/Hekken_om_Utrechtse__81028b.jpg

http://www.ad.nl/multimedia/archive/00107/Utrecht_ondipeuudvo_107308h.JPG

http://www.nrc.nl/multimedia/archive/00158/rellen_utrecht_158446a.jpg

http://www.eindhovensdagblad.nl/multimedia/archive/00424/ondiep_424342h.jpg http://www.bnr.nl/blobs/anp/46774.jpg

http://www.trouw.nl/multimedia/archive/00158/fotocrop_03-13-2007_158082d.jpg http://www.planet.nl/upload_mm/2/a/a/1996495477_1999998474_img-130307-014.onlineBild[1].jpg


http://www.elsevier.nl/artimg/200703/Bloemen_Ondiep.jpg http://www.elsevier.nl/artimg/200703/ondiep(1).jpg http://www.leidschdagblad.nl/multimedia/archive/00257/img-130307-261_onli_257981c.jpg
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Mar, 2007 04:59 pm
They say men are visual - but that really helps me. Seeing the type of building/community/neighbourhood makes it real - puts it into a context - makes me attach it to a comparable neighbourhood here in Toronto - where similar troubles could arise in the next years if we're not careful.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Mar, 2007 06:12 pm
Someone on Flickr got pretty close-up with his camera - cool pics, actually.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/157/420486225_679d1cc44e.jpg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hoogmoet/420486225

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/186/420487214_e67c1058b5.jpg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hoogmoet/420487214/in/photostream/
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Mar, 2007 10:13 pm
Well, I'm driving to Utrecht in a couple of minutes (a day-tour, just to get out a bit - in the afternnon to Amerfoort, a place, once my grandaunt/-uncle lived and I haven't been since .... 50 years or so).

It's quite peculiar funny: I've been in Paris when the riots started there, and now Utrecht.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Mar, 2007 01:18 am
Interesting. So the common factor is Walter. Shocked Cool
0 Replies
 
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Mar, 2007 01:35 am
I knew this man was a riot... Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Mar, 2007 12:20 pm
Nice looking neighborhood....
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Mar, 2007 12:33 pm
Thanks for the account and the pics. I'm with ehBeth on appreciating the visual component a lot.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Mar, 2007 01:04 pm
Entering the Netherlands, there were border controls (usually there's nothing at all) on the autobahn: all vehicles had to drive slowly over a car park .... for custom controls by the Dutch customs.

On the way back (different [minor] road), the Dutch police was comntrolling the entering traffic .... there was a speed limit.
The German plocice was controlling about a mile away from the border as well. Some procedure as done in the morning by the Dutch, but no custom officers there; they semed to have done a normal traffic control.

In Utrecht, nothing was to noticed - but I've only been in the old part of the town. Saw one policeman and three really nice looking policewomen: normal "outfit", on normal patrol duty.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Mar, 2007 02:21 pm
Ah, women in uniform.... Embarrassed
0 Replies
 
katya8
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Mar, 2007 04:45 pm
It's really interesting, how every person twists this story to fit their own political bias, isn't it?
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Mar, 2007 04:50 pm
Katya, can you provide 2 or 3 examples of political bias demonstrated on this thread (by different posters)?

I'd be quite interested to see where you identified that.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Mar, 2007 12:14 am
katya8 wrote:
It's really interesting, how every person twists this story to fit their own political bias, isn't it?


What ehBeth said.

I mean, I didn't live there as nimh did.
And I really don't think, the couple of hours I've spend there after those riots are a huge advantage.

But I've followed what happened there quite closely in the Netherlands papers (and German, since some towns from around here twinned with Dutch towns).

The trials against some (?) are reported HERE (and in Dutch :wink: ) in the Dutch law journal Nederlands Juridisch Dagblad.
Most were convicted only to minor fines.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Mar, 2007 08:19 am
katya8 wrote:
It's really interesting, how every person twists this story to fit their own political bias, isn't it?


ehBeth wrote:
Katya, can you provide 2 or 3 examples of political bias demonstrated on this thread (by different posters)?

I'd be quite interested to see where you identified that.


Walter Hinteler wrote:
What ehBeth said.


Look guys, perhaps Katya was merely reacting to the media responses or the political responses in Holland. Or actually, she probably just simply responded to the original post. After all, I made quite a point of laying out how the Brussels Journal, for example, turned the events into a narrative that was totally different from what any of the other media reported, and did so with an obvious political motivation. I often respond to the original post of a topic without reading through all the responses.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Mar, 2007 08:26 am
Could be.

No way of knowing without hearing from Katya.

(I don't get the responding to the original post only thing - but that's my thing)
0 Replies
 
katya8
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Mar, 2007 03:48 pm
ehBeth wrote:
Katya, can you provide 2 or 3 examples of political bias demonstrated on this thread (by different posters)?

I'd be quite interested to see where you identified that.


I was talking about the news media, not this place. Smile
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