Almost 1580 XR climate activists arrested on A12, 40 prosecuted

During the blockade of Extinction Rebellion, 1,579 climate activists were arrested on the A12, the police reported on Saturday evening. Most of the demonstrators have been released and are not being prosecuted. According to the climate action group, at least 6000 people and 130 social organizations demonstrated on the A12 in The Hague.

On Saturday, about 40 people were arrested for criminal offenses that will be prosecuted, a police spokesperson said. These climate activists were arrested for defacement or insult, among other charges. One of them had bitten a police officer.

The police reported that 10 minors were also arrested on Saturday. However, their personal details, like those of most other demonstrators, were not registered.

Never before have so many people been arrested during a blockade of the A12 by the climate action group. It was the seventh time that Extinction Rebellion demonstrated on the A12 in The Hague. During the last blockade on March 11, nearly 700 activists were arrested.

Although the prosecutor’s office will not prosecute most of the activists arrested during an Extinction Rebellion blockade on the A12, the mayor of The Hague stressed Saturday that the right to demonstrate is not the same as the right to break the law.

Jan van Zanen explained in a written statement on the municipality’s website that he ordered, after warnings, the use of water cannons at the very beginning of the blockade and the removal of the activists from the A12. “As mayor, I cannot tolerate a large number of activists blocking a (highway) road indefinitely in order to exert coercion. In this way, they are heading toward breaking the law and making as many arrests as possible,” the statement said.

Earlier in the evening, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) announced that it had arrested hundreds of activists but would not prosecute most of them because of the “peaceful nature” of the demonstration. When asked, a spokesman for Van Zanen said, “”Interventions were taken right at the start. That is a clear statement. Prosecution is a matter for the OM.”

Van Zanen also stressed that the action once again required “enormous police capacity” that “could not be deployed elsewhere in the country. I greatly appreciate our police officers who traveled from all over the country to break up the blockade.” Van Zanen went on to say that he would continue to work to enable demonstrations in The Hague.

Reporting by ANP and NL Times

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