More riot reporting

Student photographer Wouter witnessed the curfew riots in Rotterdam Zuid

On Monday evening, EM reporter and freelance photographer Wouter Sterrenburg was in…

Her friend had already received a message at around half past five: watch out as protests are planned for this evening and things could get out of hand. Not long after, Amber noticed the street getting busier, and police vans started patrolling regularly between the Polderlaan and Randweg junctions. “There were loads of boys with hoods and face masks. They were mainly just filming each other and running up and down between the two junctions.” Not a lot was happening at that time.

Amber decided to quickly let the dog out, but the atmosphere outside was already becoming ‘extremely threatening’. “The entire street was full of people honking car horns.” Behind Dirk van den Broek supermarket, she saw young people stepping out of VW Polos on the way to the action on Beijerlandselaan. According to Amber, there were no coronavirus protests anywhere. It’s now clear that most of the rioters were from the neighbourhood itself. She wasn’t really bothered by them during her walk. “They were mainly scared of my dog. I also had the impression that they weren’t focused on ordinary people, just the police. And later the shops.”

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Image credit: Amber Leijen

Riot police vans drove up and down between the two junctions to chase the youths away. “To prevent that, the rioters first barricaded the tramline with bicycles, but the vans just drove over them. They then used picnic tables, which worked a lot better.” The picnic tables were on Beijerlandselaan for a district renovation project and to create terraces. “Thankfully, most of the picnic tables are still there.”

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Image credit: Amber Leijen

The armed police removed some of the picnic tables to enable the vans to drive up and down again. Rioters threw nitrates and stones at the police throughout the evening. “I also saw agents apprehending people and beating them with batons.”

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Image credit: Amber Leijen

Local residents helped the police by clearing away the barricades. Here you can see a local resident pushing a picnic table to the side.

Water cannons were also used later in the evening, mainly to disperse the groups that had come together. “But the rioters were especially afraid of a police van with cameras. We then received a warning that they were going to use tear gas, so I closed the window for a while. That ultimately proved unnecessary, as the water canon had already dispersed the groups.”

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Image credit: Amber Leijen
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Amber didn’t notice immediately any shop windows being broken that evening. “But people did send films via WhatsApp groups showing the nutritional supplement shop being looted.” They initially threw bottles of anabolic steroids on the street. “But later the rioters realised that these were worth a lot of money, so they picked them up again. We also heard that a jeweller lost thousands of euros in goods to looters. The man had just installed a new shop frontage, but that’s now completely destroyed.” Dirk van den Broek supermarket was also raided. Kruidvat wasn’t looted, as the vandals couldn’t break the windows. The drugstore simply opened again as usual next morning.

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Image credit: Amber Leijen

The windows at Zeeman were, however, completely smashed and images on social media show proud looters walking out with arms full of Zeeman clothing.

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Image credit: Amber Leijen

These cash dispenses were targeted.

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To Ambers amazement, by midnight the streets had already been swept clean. The windows of the municipal offices on the corner on Zuidpolderstraat were largely smashed, with shattered glass spread everywhere inside.