Police tell thousands at Dutch anti-racism protest to go home because of overcrowding

People take part in a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Rotterdam, Netherlands June 3, 2020. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

ROTTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch police on Wednesday asked several thousand protesters in the port city of Rotterdam to go home because the anti-racism rally was too crowded and participants could not keep to social distancing rules.

The rally, which was held on and around the central Erasmus bridge, was called over the case of George Floyd, a black American who died in police custody in the United States last week.

“The protest was ended by organisers, you are requested to go home and keep 1.5 meters distance,” police called over megaphones. While many people went home, some small groups milled around and chanted “No peace, no justice”. Organizers are imploring everyone to go home and keep a safe distance.

Police spokeswoman Elianne Mastwijk said the authorities are hoping the crowd will “disperse peacefully”. She could not confirm media estimates that there were over 4,000 protesters.

The Rotterdam municipality tweeted the rally was stopped because is was “too busy”.

A similar protest in Amsterdam on Monday which unexpectedly swelled to thousands of protesters, was criticised by some in the Netherlands for violating social distancing rules in place to ward off the Coronavirus.

Reporting by Eva Plevier; Writing by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Peter Graff