Reflections and Report on the Riots in Rotterdam

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Some out-of-touch “leftists” have tried to dismiss these riots because they coincided with and/or overtook a protest called by the right wing against new government restrictions. However, something like last night’s youth uprising against police cannot be so simply reduced— as our writer makes clear.

I don’t know where to start writing about this. On the one hand I’m overtaken by emotion, still processing the things I witnessed last night. On the other hand I’m trying to make sense of what has happened from the perspective of someone who believes in social revolution. I don’t think the latter will be something that I can fit into this short, emotionally laden piece of text, but some things need to be said about this right now. What happened last night was so much more than the supposed “fascist riot” many are dismissing it as.

Last night a protest against the (renewed) Coronavirus measures was called. This protest was clearly initiated by people that should, for the most part, be called fascist. These protests draw a crowd much more diverse than just fascists, however, and the discontent is broadening, especially now that the state is imposing more and stricter repression to control the spread of the virus.

In all this time I had not seen a single sign related to the protest, not heard a single slogan, not seen a single banner. This was about a collective and widespread hate for the police. You could taste, smell and feel it on every single corner of that street that night.

A lot of the potential for this movement is fueled by the Dutch government’s totally random and irresponsible approach to the whole pandemic crisis. Frustration with the pandemic measures is increasing and diverse. It includes people who believe the pandemic is serious and should be dealt with as well as those who believe the lies of the anti-vax movement and fall for their easy answers. You’d be hard-pressed to find people supportive of the government’s approach to the pandemic: a policy based on letting the virus spread as long as the hospitals can handle the intake of people at intensive-care wards, as opposed to preventing its spread and focusing on vaccination and providing sufficient testing facilities.

Infection cases are soaring to a record high after the government decided to randomly drop all pandemic measures last September. Even the bare minimums like wearing a face mask and keeping social distance were abandoned from one day to the next.

Protests against the government response have been happening since the start of the pandemic and have definitely been dominated by fascists; let there be no mistake about that. But it would be a mistake to discredit the wider, growing social tendency of frustration with the neoliberal government as the same thing. Anyone who isn’t pissed about what is happening is not paying attention. The fascists are abusing these frustrations, and that should not be a surprise to anyone, but discrediting all participants as “fascist” is a cheap approach that prevents serious analysis. Yesterday’s happenings were much more than a pandemic protest. It was a widespread revolt against the police that was joined by masses of youth coming out, youth who had little to do with the protests but had every reason to seize the moment and fight back. To claim that last night happenings were “a fascist riot” is simply a lie.

“Revolts can only be understood by those who have the same needs as the rebels, that is to say by those who feel they are part of the revolt.” – Filippo Argenti

At the beginning of this year when new government measures got introduced, riots kicked off in the south of the city. Parallel to the antivax protests, youth started rioting as a response to the measures.

Last night I heard there were riots happening again and decided I should take a look, but had no clue what I was in for. As I arrived on the scene there were no police to be seen. A police van stood in the middle of the road, abandoned and smashed up. As I walked on I saw a police car in flames around the corner. Masses of people had gathered and were in the streets. Most of them seemed to have little or nothing to do with the initial protest; the crowds were mostly composed of youth hanging around in the city centre. Here and there small groups of hooligans were active, clearly more organized than most of the people there. What I did not know was that the police had already been firing shots.

I was confused by the seemingly calm situation; it turns out the police had retreated just before I arrived. I decided to walk around a bit to see what was happening down the road. I couldn’t tell if most people were actually there spectating or participating in anything but roughly a thousand people were in the streets in this area. Further down the street burning barricades were erected, mostly using the superfluous and abundant electric rental scooters.

A group of riot cops appeared from a side street and started forming a line in front of the burning cop car. As they attempted closing the line they were attacked by large parts of the crowd with stones, fireworks, traffic signs and so on. The police instantly pulled out their guns again and began shooting on the spot. Despite the heavy attacks from one direction, the police actually shot in another direction at someone who, from what I could see, was actually not attacking them at all. This person fell to the ground as he was hit by a bullet and was eventually dragged away by the riot cops once many people backed off, realizing what had just happened. Within minutes after my arrival dozens of shots had been fired, some in the air, some into the crowds.

After that the still heavily outnumbered police started using their riot vans as weapons, driving at high speeds, chasing down whomever they could get in front of their van. This resulted in an hour of chases in which the police drove their vans into the crowds. The people fought against them with whatever they could find. The groups became more diffuse but the overall crowd seemed to grow as well.

Skirmishes with the cops were taking place not only in the long boulevard where everything started, but also in the side streets. Everywhere I went youngsters were standing around, seemingly doing nothing, but as the cops passed by the youth would attack them again and again. In all this time I had not seen a single sign related to the protest, not heard a single slogan, not seen a single banner. This was about a collective and widespread hate for the police. Something you could taste, smell and feel on every single corner of that street that night.

Nothing much changed for an hour or so as the police attempted to regroup and gather backup. Once they finally had gathered themselves, they attacked with water cannons and hundreds of riot cops, and things turned into a night-long chase spreading through the city centre. I decided to call it a day, still not having quite registered everything that had just unfolded in front of me.

I have seen protests, riots and street fights more intense than what happened last night. I’ve seen cops using their cars as weapons before. I’ve seen cops pulling out their guns before… But all of this was in other countries where the cops will first react with teargas, water cannons, rubber bullets and so on.

I have always thought that if such riots occurred in the Netherlands police would start shooting quickly. However, I still would have never predicted this level of eagerness to use deadly violence. I would have never predicted the scale in which it was used last night, often indiscriminately. Later that night the Mayor unironically stated that “Permission was asked to use tear gas. It was granted, but not needed.” And as much as I’m overwhelmed by what happened, I also feel naive that I’m surprised by it.
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Also I have never before witnessed such a widespread revolt against the police here. The police in Rotterdam have build a legacy of violent and racist behaviour and are openly and publicly backed in this by our Mayor and a big part of the local Council. As we’ve had to endure an increasingly corrupt and shameless government, more and more people are coming to the realization that the state does not care for them. They are realizing that the police and all the state’s other institutions only fight for the most privileged. They aren’t there for us, they never were and never will be.

To further analyze what had happened we should be looking at the London riots of 2011, Paris riots of 2005 and all the other anti-police uprisings that have happened in this part of the world over the past decade. These riots are spontaneous, chaotic and destructive and often embody some of the most toxic tendencies that modern life has created. There is a tendency from anarchists to romanticise “the riot” and forget about its ugliness. It is ugly, always, but it caries something within it we should embrace, and if we do not actively work as anarchists within it then we cannot claim to fight alongside the less privileged.

I remember us asking ourselves questions about our positions regarding these previous riots. These questions are hard to answer. They don’t have just a single answer to begin with. But, most importantly, these questions force us to reflect on our own position as anarchists as opposed to making up excuses about how the situation does not concern us… because it does.

There are a million things still missing from this report but I feel the subject has an urgency that does not allow for a long period of reflection before publishing this small text. It is intended to counter the false narrative of this being a “fascist riot” and to make us think about how we relate to revolts in general. The amount of self-proclaimed leftists cheering on the police violence from last night is repulsive and utterly hypocritical. While they were out cheering on police violence on the internet I saw youth, mostly migrant youth who are harassed by the racist police every day, being beaten and shot at. Here there should be no discussion whose side we are on.

German translation:

Great report! Thank you!!!

Great report! Thank you!!!

So some of the missing

So some of the missing "details" in this report:

- frustrations rose because of the discussed ban on fireworks during New years eve
- important as well seems to be the fact that football supporters can't go to matches because of the corona-related restrictions
- participants in the riots are overwhelmingly male
- in some of the footage I actually did hear a slogan: Rotterdam hooligans
- several groups of supporters were recognized during the riots, they were even showing their banners and flags
- football hooligans in Rotterdam are notoriously rightwing and antisemitic, the recognized hooligan groups are being described as "fireworks-crazy" and as voters of the far-right party FvD

I'm a bit weary of this type of riot-report nowadays, exactly because this kind of details is being left out or downplayed. It starts to feel a bit like: "hurray there's a riot, why don't we join in?" I totally miss some necessary reflections...

I feel like you read a

I feel like you read a different article than me, because these points are addressrd. For instance, the artiicles ays:

"This protest was clearly initiated by people that should, for the most part, be called fascist.


Here and there small groups of hooligans were active, clearly more organized than most of the people there.


These riots are spontaneous, chaotic and destructive and often embody some of the most toxic tendencies that modern life has created. There is a tendency from anarchists to romanticise “the riot” and forget about its ugliness."

Nope, I feel some of the

Nope, I feel some of the aspects I describe are still being downplayed or not really discussed. What do we actually think about fireworks? I've always loved fireworks, ever since I was a kid and the Dutch tradition is in fact quite anarchic. But I don't really mind about the ban, it should disappear because of the environmental damage in the first place. So what am I now, some leftist elitist who doesn't want these poor proletarian kids to have some fun? Should we join the protests againsts such a ban, just because we're anarchists? Or because otherwise those poor kids will be used by the fascists? I don't see any reflection on such topics, contrary to the title of the article.

So what am I now, some

So what am I now, some leftist elitist who doesn't want these ....... YES you are so fuck off

yes well fuck off yourself.

yes well fuck off yourself. what a nice level of discussion! but that is about all you have to say right? you're no better than those fascists at all.

If you dont mind a GOVERNMENT

If you dont mind a GOVERNMENT ban on whatever it is, then obviously you are not an anarchist. You cant be an anarchist and not mind state intrusion into our lives.


"If you dont mind a GOVERNMENT ban on whatever it is, then obviously you are not an anarchist. You cant be an anarchist and not mind state intrusion into our lives."

Really? Is this the level of your definition of anarchism? Oh my... [facepalm]

At any rate, what you seem to be defining yourself as belonging to (since you seem to find it important to be a something-ist) is called Libertarism. Do go on the great internet and educate yourself a tad. It sounds you might very well end up coming out as a Libertarian, and I don't think the rest of us anarchists should consider that a loss.

Wiki: “ Libertair,

Wiki: “ Libertair, libertarisch of vrij socialisme is een verzamelterm voor politieke ideologieën op het snijvlak van anarchisme en socialisme.”

That was insightful. Please kids, if you can’t have a discussion without this petty infighting, then don’t.

Het is een beetje lastig,

Het is een beetje lastig, maar: libertarisch is iets heel anders dan libertair. In het Engels is 'libertarian' zelfs nog dubbelzinniger. Maar voor de duidelijkheid: libertariërs zijn rechts tot extreem-rechts. En verdient het om bestreden te worden!

Err no, obviously that is

Err no, obviously that is not my definition. If i were to define it I would say anarchists strive for a society without rulers. This is what the word anarchy means, from greek anti (without) and arche / archontes (rule, rulers).

Being against the state is not the only part of that, but obviously you cannot be an anarchist without being against the state. Anarchists also generally consider the state as the enabler and protrector of exploitation and exploiters. Destroying the state thereby means destroying capitalism, and vice versa.

Anarchists are more radical than libertarians, as libertarians (left and right) are generally ok with the existance of a state (though they want it to be small, have little influence, etc). Anarchists, by definition, want to see the abolishing of all states, big or small, whether run by leftists or rightists. Consider two main slogans used by anarchists at protests in the netherlands:
- fire and flames for every state! (vuur en vlammen voor elke staat)
- no bosses or politicians, but selfmanagement and anarchy (geen bazen of politici, maar zelfbestuur en anarchie=

Coalitie tegen Politiegeweld

Coalitie tegen Politiegeweld wil onafhankelijk onderzoek naar het geweld van afgelopen vrijdag in Rotterdam

Comment was hidden

Deze aanvulling voldeed niet aan de spelregels.

this response of mine is imperfect, i know, but im trying

Thanks to the person who is trying to do an intervention here!
Not everybody considers you an [elitist leftist] for the comments you made, at least i for sure do not.

Realizing that the safety, the lives, the existence of nonmale people and the existence of people with a jewish background ARE NOT A DETAIL, has absolutely nothing to do with elitism. (Do jewish people and nonmale people somehow only exist in upper class society (?). No, i don't think so.)

Besides, what happened to "WE WILL NEVER MARCH WITH FASCISTS?"

It must be obvious that we hate the police anyway. It doesn't mean we must stand with fascists all of a sudden. It just means that the police is fucked up as always. And of course, these reactionary movements are glad to tokenize vulnerable rotterdam youth as well as set them up. That doesn't mean we should. If there are people cheering the police violence, they should be called out of course. And that's not leftist at all, of course it isn't. It's creepy and heartless to cheer the police when they start shooting at rioters. And of course, if you are rioting, you have a reason - and the media tends to polarize in order to create distraction from the actual lived experiences, silencing the voices of local youth, silencing the voices of people with a migration background who participate. And it is good to make sure, the leftist movement should never play into that. So i do appreciate the effort in which this text was intended.
But that doesn't mean this report doesn't downplay certain things - things which are too relevant to leave out.

All i know is, this riot was a political act.
A political act in which multiple vulnerable groups cannot participate. Because they wouldn't be safe in this crowd.
A political act following the callout of a fascist movement. If protesters who ended up participating aren't fascist, then at least they are opportunist. We shouldn't condamn it or judge it, because of course local youth have the right to express themselves. And yes, maybe we should break up with the idea that they were connected to the fascist callout. But connecting this riot to our movement now without any material connection such as, this sets a precedent for egoism and opportunism, not for solidarity. The SOCIAL revolution is a revolution fór society, fór equality (not against it). So no, this riot had little to do with social revolution. Also because "social revolution" means your struggle is connected to the rest of society (rather then scaring off other vulnerable groups).
Nominating anger about a fire works ban to be the incentive for a supposed "social revolution" seems highly tonedeaf given (* name anything* ) border violence, exclusion of undocumented people from society, agricultural workers dying from sunburns in sicily, feminists who are being murdered in afghanistan, so many homeless people on the street in the wintertime, climate change, violent raid of wet'suwet'en territority, constructions in lutkemeerpolder, you name it really. Besides, "not minding" a certain ban does not equal supporting the institution that issued the ban. Example: We all know facebook is fucked up. Does that mean you should MIND the fact that they finally banned blackface on facebook 1 year ago? NO. Ergo, do you hear yourself? This is not just rightwing bullshit. The problem is, this movement has a tendency to forget its very essence. The essence of the fact that, oppression and discrimination is not a DETAIL. It's the very thing we are fighting against.

The article does not argue to

The article does not argue to march with fascists, but to connect with the non-fascists the fascists are trying to connect wih as well. As the article argues, the protest turned into something very different from fascist.

Also, I did mind when facebook banned blackface, because i knew it would be followed with the banning of anarchst pages. Which it did. It's really stupid strategy to let states and other hostile institutions get away with stuff like that just because it targets things we dont like as well, because it sets the stage for them then attacking what we do like and even ourselves directly.

I have been shocked by how unprinciples many anarchists and leftists have been regarding things like police violence and massive state intrusion into our lives, just because we happen to not agree with the people the police is beating up or we agree with (part of) what the government is trying to get people to do. Its bad politics, bad strategy, and downright bullshit. Your ptinciples dont count for anything if you dont stick by them when the situation gets a bit more complex.

I also wasn't arguing any of

I also wasn't arguing any of the things you claim i'm arguing? I stated 5 times that i would never agree with what the cops did.
It feels like you barely read my comment, but maybe you just misunderstood or i should rephrase things. I realize you're convinced and there is no point perhaps.
But the comparison you're drawing, doesn't match the situation with the fire works ban in my opinion. But moreoverly, i'm not saying you should be happy about any ban- i was saying '' not minding something specific'' doesn't equal tolerating the institution. The ban on blackface was the result of years of antiracist struggle of actual activists. Of course it was a partial result (facebook only pretending to care). But it is not causationally related to the repression against anarchists, at least not in the way in which you are claiming it to be - in my opinion.

However, if this comparison only creates a new distracting topic, i suggest to drop it (i realize i brought it up myself)

The ban on fireworks is a

The ban on fireworks is a restriction on individual and collective freedom, and the latest attack in the netherlands on the right of communities to self-determine their collective rituals around new years. It is also a further step in the pacification and disarming of the people (working and poor people in particular), seeing how fireworks are often used at protests (anarchist ones included). I cannot see how you can 'not mind' something like that. If the people in a neighborhood want to locally ban fireworks, of course I would support that. But that is not what is happenjing here. What is happening here is the further extension of state control, externally imposed discipline and 'civilization', and a frontal state attack on popular culture. There was a time in the netherlands when anarchists and socialists would join in the resistance against such attacks, and as a result this resistance would increase in its anarchist and socialist characteristics as well as contribute to revolutionary conscioisness ans organisation (an example is the Palingsopstand in Amsterdam).

Of course it would be great if these people had already risen up for countless things in the past, and im sure some of them have, but people are not made in revolutionary heaven (as black panther women said about many black panther men). People rise up with the ideas that they have, from the social, material and political context they are in. Part of this is the general lack of revolutionary consciousness and organisation in the netherlands. If anarchists want to build these things, instead of standibg on the sidelines and being increasingly marginalized as fascists do take the opportunity to use the understandable anger of the people and translate them into their political programme, anarchists need to be open to people who rise up against state oppression. I'm not saying something strange here.

Yes, great. I guess you would

Yes, great. I guess you would also support riots in favor of traditional blackface, Zwarte Piet? Plus the rightwing farmers uprising? Fuck the environment, fuck climate change! It starts to smell real funny overhere ...

"A political act in which

"A political act in which multiple vulnerable groups cannot participate. Because they wouldn't be safe in this crowd."

What are you basing this on? The violence was directed against the police and some private property. And members of marginalized groups did participatr, as you acknowledge yourself. If it was some kind of fascist riot as you imply, the targets would have been those vulnerable groups and the police would have most likely let them, as when fascists pelted KOZP protestors with eggs in eindhoven i believe.

Morover, the presence of anarchists etc in these momentd would further enable and protect the participation of vulnerable groups. Not decrease it. So, in effect, you are arguing against making these events even less fascist, though using anti-fascist argumentation.

A fascist who is fighting the police might be a fascist, but he is not acting fascist unless the police happens to be protecting vulnerable groups (which they tend not to do, and in any case werent doing in the context we are talking about).. Non-fascist people fighting the police who in that capacity happen to find themselves next to a fascist doing the same, are not all of a sudden fascist themselves.

I eat, I shit, I sleep. So do fascists. I might even eat at the same place a fascist does, and like the same food. Does that make me a fascist?

"border violence, exclusion

"border violence, exclusion of undocumented people from society, agricultural workers dying from sunburns in sicily, feminists who are being murdered in afghanistan, so many homeless people on the street in the wintertime, climate change, violent raid of wet'suwet'en territority, constructions in lutkemeerpolder,"

Can you hear yourself? These are all things that, while important to a politically conscious person AND the people directly impacted, are not important to most people in the netherlands because they are not directly impacted. So, obviously, at least in the absence of large radical political consciousness and organization, those most people will not rise up about these things. They will rise uo about things that do impact them, like a general ban on fireworks.

For any social revolution in any placr you need the participation of massive amounts of people in that specific place. That will and only ever has happened when it is regarding something that directly impacts massive amounts of people. The zapatistas didn't rise up because people were screwed on the other side of the world or because one indigenous project was attacked. They rose up because massive amounts of people were being screwed right where they are. And even though some of those people were hideously conservative, patriarchal, nationalist. Same goes for the kurdish in Syria. For 1917 (which was about oeace and bread, not minority rights), 1936 (which was against a fascist military coup, not out of empathy for the homeless), and whatever else you can think of. I think the paris commune was even outright nationalist in some respects.

People have a far too romantic view of past uprisings, and a far too negative view of the current ones.

Sounds like you are just

Sounds like you are just getting a boner because there's a riot going on. This is politically so superficial, you might meet some nazi accelerationists just standing next to you. Surprise surprise! You have almost the same ideas! Good luck with your new friends.

O ja het waren allemaal

O ja het waren allemaal migranten die tegen racisme protesteerden ? Nee gister zag ik in Even tot hier op NPO 1 dat clown Bassie ook mee deed en een vinger had verloren. Of is Bassie een crypto Marokkaan ?

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