Dutch police break up rowdy rallies at colonial-era statue

Police on horseback on Friday evening charged rival protesters gathered near the statue of a 17th century colonial-era Dutch officer that became the target of anti-racism demonstrators in the Netherlands. Five people were detained during unrest after small groups from each side refused to disperse, authorities said. There were no reports of injuries. Protesters scattered in groups in neighbourhoods in the town of Hoorn, about 45 kilometres (30 miles) north of Amsterdam, as riot police moved in with vans, footage showed. Police with shields and batons broke up crowds near a large statue of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, an officer in the Dutch East India Company who is seen by some as a hero of the country’s Golden Age and by others as a brutal oppressor. A group of around 20 supporters carried Dutch flags with the name “Coen” written on them. Around 250 protesters attended an earlier peaceful protest on the outskirts of town calling for Coen’s statue to be taken down. In 1621, Pieterszoon Coen led the Dutch conquest of the Banda Islands in current-day Indonesia, when thousands of inhabitants were killed with the help of Japanese mercenaries. Just 1,000 out of 15,000 local residents are believed to have survived and around 800 were deported to the Dutch-held Batavia. Colonial-era statues have become the targets of protests around the globe in weeks since the killing of African-American George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

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