Leiden biologist arrested looking for bugs in his own garden

Roelant Jonker, a biologist living in Leiden, was sprayed with pepper spray and arrested on Wednesday night. The police thought he looked particularly suspicious as he crawled through the bushes with a torch.

Jonker was simply minding his own business, hunting snout-beetles; the activity is very meditative for him, apparently. The Leiden biologist has been doing this for years (tending to his plants, protecting them against bugs), so he did not expect to be confronted by a load of police officers, let alone pepper spray.

How did it all escalate so quickly?

It all started around midnight, when the police asked Jonker for identity confirmation and he went inside to fetch his passport. When he couldn’t find it, the police tried to enter the gate of his garden, stepping onto Jonker’s property. That’s when an argument broke out.

The biologist was promptly sprayed with pepper spray and forcibly taken to the police station. Jonker, an asthmatic, is extremely traumatised by the events. He believes he could have died, had the spray caused an allergic reaction in his lungs.

Police perspective

According to the police, Jonker repeatedly refused to explain what he was doing. When they went to arrest him, he tried to resist and pushed one of the police officers, an action which forced them to resort to the spray.

What’s next?

Jonker has stated he will pay the fine and object to it later. For now, he’s back to doing what he loves: keeping the greenery beautiful. Even if it means roaming the streets with his torch, looking a tad shady, he’ll continue living his best life.

Snout Beetle (Picture by Vijay Cavale / Wiki)

Whose side are you on? Were the police too harsh or should Jonker have complied sooner? As usual, let us know in the comments! 

Abbie Neale
Abbie, a writer from the UK, fell in love with the Netherlands when she was three years old. When she’s not spending her free time painting canals or playing the guitar, she’ll be off travelling somewhere (and probably getting lost).


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