Translation of an article published on the site "It's Going Down - IGD WorldWide", via the FB page "Brains not available":
Reflections and report on the riots of November 19 in Rotterdam
A comrade from the Netherlands sent a first-hand report of last night's extraordinary anti-police riots in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in which Dutch police fired into crowds. Some disconnected "leftists" tried to reject the riots because they coincided with a protest organized by the right against new government restrictions. However, an event such as the youth uprising against the police last night cannot be so simply reduced - as our author clearly shows.
"I don't know where to start to write on this topic. For one thing, I'm overwhelmed with emotion, I'm still dealing with the things I witnessed last night. On the other hand, I try to make sense of what happened from the point of view of someone who believes in social revolution. I don't think I can fit that last point into this short, emotional text, but some things need to be said about it now. What happened last night is much more than the supposed "fascist riot" that many see as such.
Last night, a demonstration against the (renewed) measures against the coronavirus was organized. This demonstration was clearly initiated by people who, for the most part, should be called fascists. These protests draw a much more diverse crowd than just fascists, however, and discontent is growing, especially now that the state is imposing increasingly stringent crackdowns to control the spread of the virus.
During that time, I hadn't seen a single sign related to the protest, not heard a single slogan, not seen a single banner. It was a collective and widespread hatred of the police. You could taste it, smell it and feel it around every corner that night.
The potential of this movement is largely fueled by the completely haphazard and irresponsible approach of the Dutch government to the pandemic crisis. Frustration with pandemic measures is growing and diverse. It includes people who believe the pandemic is serious and needs to be addressed, as well as people who believe the lies of the anti-vax movement and fall for their easy answers. It would be difficult to find people who support the government's approach to the pandemic: a policy of letting the virus spread as long as hospitals can handle the arrival of people in intensive care units, instead of prevent its spread and focus on vaccination and providing sufficient testing facilities.
Cases of infection have reached an all-time high since the government randomly decided to drop all pandemic control measures last September. Even the bare minimum, like wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing, was dropped overnight.
Protests against the government's response have been going on since the start of the pandemic and have been dominated by fascists, make no mistake about it. But it would be a mistake to discredit the broader and growing social trend of frustration with neoliberal government as the same thing. Anyone who is not angry with what is going on is not paying enough attention. The fascists abuse these frustrations, and it should come as no surprise, but discrediting all participants by calling them "fascists" is an easy approach that precludes serious analysis. Yesterday's events were more than a pandemic manifestation. It was a widespread revolt against the police joined by masses of young people, young people who had little to do with the protests but who had every reason to seize the opportunity and retaliate. To claim that last night's events were "a fascist riot" is simply a lie.
"The revolts can only be understood by those who have the same needs as the rebels, that is, by those who feel they are part of the revolt." - Filippo Argenti
Earlier this year, when new government measures were introduced, riots broke out in the south of the city. Along with the anti-vaccine protests, young people began to revolt in response to these measures.
Last night I heard there was rioting again and decided to take a look, but had no idea what to expect. When I arrived at the scene, I did not see any police officers. A police van was in the middle of the road, abandoned and destroyed. As I continued walking, I saw a burning police car around the corner. Masses of people had gathered and were in the streets. Most of them seemed to have nothing to do with the initial manifestation; the crowd was mostly young people hanging out in the city center. Here and there small groups of hooligans were active, obviously more organized than most of the people present. What I didn't know was that the police had fired shots before.
I was taken aback by this apparently calm situation; it turns out that the police had withdrawn just before my arrival. I decided to take a walk around to see what was going on down the street. I couldn't tell if most of the people were there watching or participating in anything, but about a thousand people were on the streets in that area. Further down the street, burning barricades had been erected, mainly using rental electric scooters, which were superfluous and numerous.
A group of riot cops appeared from a side street and began to form a line in front of the burning police car. As they tried to close the line, they were attacked by a large part of the crowd with stones, fireworks, traffic signs, etc. The police instantly drew their guns and started shooting at the crowd. Despite the strong attacks from one direction, the police fired in another direction at a person who, from what I could see, was not attacking them at all. This person fell to the ground after being hit by a bullet and was eventually dragged by riot police after many people backed away, realizing what had just happened. Within minutes of my arrival, dozens of shots were fired, some in the air, others in the crowd.
After that, the police, still outnumbered, began to use their riot vans as weapons, driving at high speed, chasing anyone in front of their van. This resulted in an hour of chases in which the police rushed into the crowd with their vans. The people fought against them with whatever they could find. The groups spread, but the overall crowd seemed to grow as well.
The skirmishes with the cops took place not only on the long boulevard where it all began, but also in the side streets. Everywhere I went, young people were standing, seeming to be doing nothing, but when the police passed by, young people would attack them again and again. During that time, I hadn't seen a single sign related to the protest, not heard a single slogan, not seen a single banner. It was a collective and widespread hatred towards the police. Something you could taste, smell and feel around every corner that night
Nothing changed for about an hour as the police tried to regroup and muster reinforcements. Once they finally got together, they attacked with water cannons and hundreds of riot cops, and things turned into a chase that lasted all night and spanned across the country. downtown. I decided to leave it there, not having yet fully recorded what had just unfolded in front of me.
I have seen more intense protests, riots and street fighting than what happened last night. I've seen cops use their cars as a weapon before. But all this was happening in other countries where the police reacted first with tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, etc.
I always thought that if such riots happened in the Netherlands, the police would start shooting quickly. However, I never would have predicted such a level of readiness to use deadly violence. I would never have predicted the extent to which it was used last night, often indiscriminately. Later that night, the mayor said without irony that "permission to use tear gas has been requested. It has been granted, but not required." And as much as I am upset by what happened, I also feel naive to be surprised.
Moreover, I have never witnessed such a widespread revolt against the police here. Rotterdam Police have built a legacy of violent and racist behavior and are openly and publicly supported by our mayor and much of the local council. As we have had to endure an increasingly corrupt and shameless government, more and more people are realizing that the state does not care about them. They realize that the police and all other state institutions are fighting only for the most privileged. They are not there for us, they never have been and never will be.
To further analyze what happened, we should look at the London Riots of 2011, the Paris Riots of 2005, and all the other anti-police uprisings that have taken place in this part of the world over the past decade. .
These riots are spontaneous, chaotic and destructive and often embody some of the most toxic trends that modern life has created. Anarchists tend to romanticize the "riot" and forget about its ugliness. She's ugly, always, but she carries with her something that we need to embrace, and if we don't actively work at it as anarchists, we can't claim to be fighting alongside the less privileged.
I remember that we wondered about our positions regarding these previous riots. These questions are difficult to answer. They don't have a single answer to begin with. But, most importantly, these questions force us to think about our own position as anarchists, instead of making up excuses to explain that the situation does not concern us ... because it does to us. concerning.
There are still a million things missing in this report, but I feel that the subject has an urgency which does not allow a long period of reflection before publishing this little text. It is intended to counter the false narrative that this is a "fascist riot" and to make us reflect on our relationship to revolts in general. The number of self-proclaimed leftists who applauded last night's police brutality is disgusting and utterly hypocritical. While promoting police violence on the internet, I have seen young people, mostly young migrants who are harassed by racist police every day, being beaten and shot. Here there should be no argument as to which side we are on. "