Farmers in the Netherlands have been taking to the barricades for weeks. They are protesting against the government’s stricter environmental regulations, which are likely to mean the end of many livestock farms. During one of the protests, one of the police officers used his gun – because of a “threatening situation”.
Police in the Netherlands are said to have fired their service weapons at farmers who were protesting the country’s government’s current environmental reforms. Video footage shows officers shooting at a tractor trying to evade the emergency services.
The incident happened late Tuesday evening near a motorway entrance in the municipality of Heerenveen in the Dutch province of Fryslân (Friesland). As the local police stated, the tractor driver tried to drive into the officials and service vehicles after a check. The police explained:
“A threatening situation arose. Warning shots were fired and targeted shots were fired.”
The tractor was hit, the authority said. Three suspects were later found and arrested. Nobody was injured in the incident.
A video is circulating on the short message service Twitter, which is supposed to show the moment when the police officers fired the shots in the direction of the tractor driver.
Video circulating online shows two vehicles driving away in quick succession without even remotely hitting a pedestrian, with officers opening fire on the second vehicle as it drives away.
A photo shared on social networks is said to show the bullet hole on a tractor
Another video, apparently taken around the same time, shows an officer, pistol in hand, issuing orders to a tractor driver parked near the highway entrance while aiming the gun at the vehicle.
Gideon van Meijeren, an MP for the conservative Forum for Democracy party, commented later took the footage in response to a police statement, saying it did not show anyone in “imminent danger” and tagged “police violence” and “peasant revolt” in his comment. He urged the authorities to clarify the apparent discrepancy “as soon as possible” and indicated that he had requested an urgent debate in Parliament.
Because an officer used his service weapon while on duty, the country’s criminal investigation department will launch an investigation into the incident to determine exactly what happened, local police added.
The incident comes amid a wave of protests among Dutch farmers who have been vocal about a government initiative to cut pollutant emissions. Campaigns have been running across the country for weeks, in which, among other things, important traffic junctions or access roads to supermarket warehouses and ports have been blocked with tractors.
As part of the reform, the government wants to enforce stricter regulations on the emission of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and ammonia and achieve a 50 percent reduction in emissions over the next eight years. Due to intensive livestock farming, these have been too high in the Netherlands for decades.
The reforms are likely to hit agriculture hard, since fertilizers contain large amounts of nitrogen oxides and animals produce ammonia through their urine and faeces. Farmers could be forced to reduce their livestock or stop operations altogether. Some even speak of 30 percent fewer cattle farms. Many fear the changes will simply bankrupt them, which has sparked violent demonstrations in recent weeks.
Late last month, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said farmers had the right to protest, but warned the government would not allow them to “create dangerous situations” or “intimidate officials”. This formulation was picked up by the police in Heerenveen after the shots were fired on Tuesday.
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