Community service for rioters during the Zwolle farmers’ demonstration

The Zwolle police judge on Friday issued a community service order of 120 hours and a month’s suspended prison sentence for their involvement in riots at an Albert Heijn distribution center in Zwolle.

On July 4, protesting farmers blocked the distribution center. The protest ended in a confrontation with riot police. A fourth man, the only farmer among the five suspects, was acquitted for lack of evidence, as claimed by the prosecutor.

The confrontation followed the issuance of an emergency ordinance by the mayor of Zwolle. Riot police had ordered the two to three hundred people at the distribution center to leave. They did not do it. Instead, violence ensued, including rioters throwing beer bottles at police. A police shovel was also destroyed.

Three suspects said they went to the blockade to support the farmers. Neither man is known to be a notorious rioter. According to the farmer on trial, the riots “did not come from the farmers”, but other people present were the cause.

The prosecution requested a four-month prison sentence against three of the five suspects, including two months suspended. The judiciary considers it important that a “clear signal” is sent, also because farmers’ protests against the Cabinet’s nitrogen plans are growing louder. “Protesting is an important basic right, but if you go over the line, you can expect a strong reaction,” the district attorney said. “We do not tolerate violence against the police.”

The officer demanded community service against a suspect, given his personality issues. The judge also did this: he imposed a 120-hour community service order on the man, including 40 hours suspended.

The magistrate considered that it was going too far to send the suspects to prison. He told them, however, that in their solidarity with the farmers, they had crossed “a border”. They did no good to the peasant movement with the violence they committed and violence against the police is totally out of the question, according to the judge. “They are attached to our society. You shouldn’t bomb the police.”

In accordance with the requisition of the public prosecutor, the police judge imposed a fine of 410 euros for violation of the emergency order issued the night in question. The accused farmer was also acquitted.

Jill E. Washington