At yesterday’s press conference, in which the main topic was whether Dutchies could go on a foreign holiday this year, Prime Minister Rutte also commented on the situation in the US and the recent anti-racism protests in the Netherlands.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, protests have erupted across the US and in many other countries across the world. In the Netherlands, people have gathered in public to protest against racism and police brutality in the US and EU.

On Monday, several thousand people gathered on Dam Square, where concerns were raised about the lack of social distancing at the protest. In The Hague, Breda, and Groningen, on Tuesday, social distance was successfully kept. And last night, in Rotterdam, the protest was broken up, again because of a lack of social distancing.

Death of George Floyd “unacceptable”, says Rutte

The Prime Minister was asked to comment on the protests last night at the press conference. He said that the death of George Floyd was “unacceptable”, and emphasised that racism was a problem in the Netherlands as well as the US. He called discrimination in the Netherlands a “systemic problem” and said, “Here too, people are judged on their origin.”

However, he also said that it was irresponsible to gather without social distancing, as happened in Amsterdam. He did not comment on Rotterdam, as he did not have enough information at that stage. And he was also hesitant to comment on the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by police against protestors in the US, though he said he was shocked by the images.

Rutte’s commitment to anti-racism questioned

We can only hope that this marks the beginning of a change for Rutte’s angle on racism in the Netherlands: after all, it is not so long ago that he published the “Doe normaal of ga weg” letter, which among other things, told people who called “ordinary Dutch people” racist should leave the country.

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And, as others have pointed out, it remains to be seen if Rutte’s new awareness of racism being present in the Netherlands will carry over to the Zwarte Piet discussion this year.

If you want to know what you can do about racism in the Netherlands, then we have a post here that will give you some starting points. 

Feature Image: Vlad Moca-Grama and Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied. 

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