After several weeks of protest against systemic racism within both the US and Europe, Dutch PM Mark Rutte spoke on the subject at the end of last week
By Racheal Adeniyi
Premier Rutte spoke on anti-racism demonstrations in the U.S. and the Netherlands: “the death of George Floyd is unacceptable,” he said in the press conference after the usual Coronavirus updates.
Since George Floyd’s death, demonstrations have taken place in the U.S. and recent days also in various locations in the Netherlands. “About the U.S., campaign,” said Rutte, “what people experience there, people experience here too.”
The protests were originally sparked by the murder of George Floyd, who died after a policeman blocked his airways whilst other police officers looked on. Since then, the protests have evolved to commemorate other victims of police violence such as Brionna Taylor, as well as the systemic racism that still flourishes within various institutions across the world.
At a demonstration in Groningen, for example, speakers highlighted the death in police custody of Tomy Holten in Zwolle (in March), and the Netherlands’ ongoing issues with racism.
Rutte called discrimination in the Netherlands a “systemic problem.” “Here, too, people are judged on their origin.”
However, he understood “a thousand percent” that people want to demonstrate against it. But the Prime Minister did say that an anti-racism demonstration in Amsterdam last Monday was “irresponsible” during the current Coronavirus outbreak.
“We are also dealing with a pandemic. You also have a responsibility not to infect others,” said Rutte. Too many people came to the demonstration on Dam Square, so it was no longer possible to keep a 1.5-meter distance.
In the same way that we have to “collectively resist” racism, we also have to keep a collective distance of 1.5 meters, he stressed. He didn’t want to say anything about the breakdown of the demonstration in Rotterdam at that time- also because of crowds – because he didn’t have enough information at that time.
Rutte didn’t want to talk about the use of tear gas and rubber bullets in the U.S. against demonstrators/protesters. “I’m not going to comment on U.S. government action. But the images scare me.”
You can watch the entire Press Conference from Mark Rutte and Minister De Jonge’s here: