Thousands of Extinction Rebellion climate activists blocked the A12 motorway near The Hague, Netherlands, at midday on September 9. They were demanding the end of what they claim are government subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry and pledged to occupy the road on a daily basis.
The blockade had been banned by city authorities ahead of the activists’ mass protest, and Dutch police had to step in, arresting around 2,400 demonstrators, dozens of whom were minors.
That beat the previous highest number of arrests that came during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration in May, when 1,587 climate activists were held.
Climate extremists say they are angry about fossil-fuel “subsidies”, with left-wing environmentalists claiming such subsidies are worth €17.5 billion to the fossil-fuel industry, a highly contested figure.
Those figures seem at odds with the official government stance, which is that it does not give financial support to companies involved in polluting activities.
In addition, the government said it wanted to avoid making the Netherlands and the wider European Union more dependent on those outside the bloc. One economic expert says the Dutch Government itself earns €35 billion in taxes from those fuels.
The police gave the activists 90 minutes for their protest and then demanded they left the motorway. The climate activists refused and the police turned on the water cannon: maybe not the worst thing to happen given the hot summer temperatures.
Officers then removed them one by one and transported them en masse by bus to ADO Den Haag’s football stadium. Most of the arrests related to violating the Public Demonstrations Act, which lists rules all protesters must abide by. Once at the stadium, most were released and will not be prosecuted, police said.
Some activists were also arrested for assault and vandalism and they are still in custody, although it is unclear how many.
On September 10, there was another protest by climate activists on the Utrechtsebaan section of the A12, although only a couple of hundred took part. The police did make further arrests but many fewer than at the previous day’s protest.