Police downscale alert after suburban riots

11th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — After two nights of civil disturbances, specialist riot police were successfully deployed to maintain public order in a Den Bosch suburb on Sunday, but a visible police presence was felt again on Monday.

11 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — After two nights of civil disturbances, specialist riot police were successfully deployed to maintain public order in a Den Bosch suburb on Sunday, but a visible police presence was felt again on Monday.

Four platoons of riot police sealed off the suburb of Graafsewijk on Sunday afternoon to ensure an emergency ordinance was observed. A couple of people were arrested for breaching the regulations.

Under the ordinance, police are refusing entry to the suburb to anyone who does not have a legitimate reason for being there. Officers are also allowed to search people at random and public gatherings are banned.

When no further unrest materialised, the riot police withdrew from the suburb at about midnight on Sunday. Extra traffic inspections were held on various arterial roads around the city to prevent 'riot tourists' entering the district.

With the emergency ordinance still in affect, police maintained a visible presence in the suburb on Monday. Instead of riot police however, normal uniform officers were deployed.  

Den Bosch Mayor Ton Rombouts said later on Monday that due to the fact that renewed violence had not been reported in the city district in recent days, normality could return to Graafsewijk.

This means that police surveillance will be significantly reduced and that the district will not be sealed off at night by riot police. The emergency ordinance will remain temporarily in force, however.

Rombouts had ordered the district to be sealed off on Saturday afternoon after successive nights of rioting on Thursday and Friday.

Officers still arrested a further 16 people on Saturday night. The suspects were described as people who could not identify themselves or were alleged rioters police recognised from the previous two nights.

In total, police have arrested 77 people, 30 of who were still being detained on Monday morning.

The rioting was sparked on Thursday night after the broadcast of the SBS 6 programme 'Probleemwijken' (Problem Neighbourhoods). After the broadcast — which featured the suburb of Graafsewijk — residents smashed the windows of a local house.

The man living in the house had said on the television programme that he'd previously had sex with his eight-year-old stepdaughter. The SBS programme also showed a picture of the man's victim.

The man — who was previously convicted of the sex abuse — had been forewarned of possible trouble prior to the broadcast and had left his home as a precaution.

However, Graafsewijk residents were also protesting against Den Bosch City Council policy. They have accused the mayor of operating an anti-social policy. 

Locals can be evicted from their homes if they are found to have cultivated cannabis. This excludes them from obtaining rental housing in Den Bosch for the next three years.

The policy is based on an agreement signed between the housing corporations in the Brabant city. Graafsewijk residents are demanding that the council prevent such evictions.

Thursday night's riots were followed by unrest again on Friday night, when special riot police with the ME squad clashed with residents after police vehicles were pelted with stones and fireworks.

The unrest on Friday night was largely blamed on people who did not live in the area. Residents of the sealed-off Bartjes-Zuid area — located in the Graafsewijk district of Den Bosch — were angered by the emergency by-law.

No unrest was reported on Saturday night, despite the reported arrests.

Mayor Rombouts accuses both SBS and the public of acting irresponsibly. He claims the commercial broadcaster exploited the residents of problem neighbourhoods and has accused it of inciting unrest.

SBS has since promised not to repeat on Wednesday its broadcast featuring the Graafsewijk suburb. A compilation of Probleemwijken on Thursday will not include footage from Graafsewijk either.

SBS denies, however, that it was to blame for the riots and is confident of success if it becomes embroiled in legal action in relation to the programme.

"It is idiotic that he (Rombouts) blames us for the situation in his neighbourhood. We have simply pictured what happens in the neighbourhood," a spokesman said.

Concerns are now being raised about a soccer match between Den Bosch and Rotterdam team Feyenoord on Wednesday night. Police consider the match a threat to public order and will deploy the usual amount of police officers used in similar situations.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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