Dear Mrs Halsema, Mayor of the City of Amsterdam,
At this very moment a handful of your citizens are in detention for hours already in a cell block in Amsterdam, unsure of when they will be released. Their crime? Standing up peacefully to a well known organized white supremacist group which, on Afrika Day, decided to show its face and hateful ideology in the streets of our Capital. Some videos of this morning are spreading on Twitter and I cannot help but notice two things: (1) the police are actively protecting the white supremacists while (2) completely encircling the peaceful group of counter demonstrators, outnumbering and intimidating. I am capable of understanding that the police action falls within the letter of the law. I am, however, in disbelief over the chosen actions of the police in the first place, as responding to this counter demonstration.
Painting you an image of the scene: the counter demonstrators held up 2 banners and there was one wooden ladle involved to make a drumming sound. A sound that was drowned out by the police loudspeakers directing them to stop. The white supremacists held up (at least) two Prinsenvlaggen – nationlist flags that the NSB (Dutch Nazi party) used before and during WWII and that are now known symbols of the white supremacists and neo-nazis. By protecting the white supremacist group and actively drowning out the resistance to their fascist ideology the police are not merely supporting their freedom of expression (which they, by the letter of the law, think is rightful), but in fact ensuring that their hateful expressions are the only ones left in the public space. The fact that the police behavior falls under the letter of the law does not in any way lessen the impact of its effect.
Dear Mayor, in a situation such as this there are many responses that can be taken that fall within the letter of the law. However, rightfulness does not equal righteousness. Choosing to remove the countervoices and consequently arresting them for an unforeseen amount of time is one that in a twisted way supports white supremacist elements in our society, while reining in peaceful activists that dare to show up in protest to speak up against intolerance and white supremacy. Your choices are emboldening the very elements that drive intolerance in Amsterdam. We need you and all our city representatives to act righteously. The leadership of Amsterdam will be judged by its actions, not by its explanations.