Jouke Hospes, a 16-year-old teen that was shot at by Dutch police officers late July 5, has just been freed along with two fellow adult protestors.
Before his release, a massive crowd of Dutch farmers and protesters rallied outside the police station where he was held to challenge the arrest.
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On July 6, farmers and concerned citizens showed up in droves, with tractors lining the streets and people crowding the sidewalks. Signs painted with “Free Jouke” have been seen all across the country, putting police under scrutiny.
The minor in question was allegedly apprehended after a police action during which “targeted shots” and warning shots were also fired.
On Dutch social media, images and videos of the incident are circulating, most notably one of a tractor that was hit by a bullet in the process at an access ramp to the A32 highway. A total of three people were arrested.
The bullet hole in the tractor is also shown. One of the videos shows officers appearing to have their guns drawn on the road as a tractor with a trailer drives past a police blockade. Then shots can be heard in the video.
Police claimed that the teen attempted to ram into police and other vehicles with the tractor before the officers opened fire on him.
“At about 10:40 p.m., tractor drivers attempted to drive into officers and service vehicles. This happened at the entrance Mercurius/A32 in Heerenveen. A threatening situation arose. Warning shots were fired and targeted shots were fired,” wrote Police for the Province of Friesland in a Dutch-language tweet following the incident.
“A tractor was hit. A tractor drove away from the incident and was stopped shortly afterward on Jousterweg. Three suspects have been arrested. No one was injured. The road is currently closed for the investigation.”
Speaking to protest attendees outside the jail, Editor-in-Chief of Canada’s The Counter Signal, Keean Bexte, asked a man if it’s normal for police in the Netherlands to shoot at protesters as they did last night.
“No. Only when it’s life-threatening for them [can they] shoot. But it was not life-threatening,” he said.
“Do you think that the Prime Minister has created a climate where police think that they’re allowed to do stuff like this?” Bexte asked.
“Yes. It means that [in] this moment, for minor things, they can arrest you or shoot you and put you in jail,” the protester responded.
According to Farmers Defense Force (FDF) Chairman Mark van den Oever, the 16-year-old boy in question is unjustly detained on suspicion of attempted manslaughter and should be released “immediately absolutely,” Dutch outlet Transport Online reported.
“Because none of this is acceptable. That officer should be behind bars. Because there was no life-threatening situation at all and he kept enough distance. He did not drive into the officer.”
van den Oever called the arrest “a disgrace to democracy,” adding, “These are orders from above to escalate [the conflict],” the outlet continued.
The farmers who had gathered at the police station in Leeuwarden where Jouke was detained have now left, reportedly at the request of his parents who did not want the situation to escalate further.
“The Mobile Unit (riot police) is currently deployed at a distribution center on Edisonstraat in Sneek. A group of activists has been blocking the site there for some time. After several warnings and a [warning] letter from the municipality, the activists have still not left,” police tweeted.
Dutch farmers are undertaking the protests and have been joined by members of the fishing industry, all of whom are protesting an economy-destroying environmental policy that will require businesses to reduce nitrogen emissions nationwide by 50 percent — and up to 95% in some provinces by 2030 — with cows and fertilizers earmarked as significant contributors.
The police actions come after several municipalities declared emergency ordinance orders, bestowing upon authorities unprecedented powers to deal with protesters blockading food distribution centers on July 4.
Up to 20 such centres had been blocked by trucks and tractors on July 6, including those in Nieuwegein, Drachten, Heerenveen, Zwolle, Veghel, Breda, Beilen, Woerden, Nijkerk, and Geldermalsen.
Videos showing multiple Dutch grocery stores with shelves empty have circulated on social media.
Since the orders were declared, police have been seen wearing military-style equipment and have taken to tear gassing protesters.