The protesters rallied in support of George Floyd, a black American who died in police custody in the United States last week, their number swelling from an expected 200-300 to several thousands on Monday.
Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema, of the Green Left party, said city authorities were caught off guard by the huge turnout and could not have intervened peacefully. She defended the public’s right to demonstrate.
“I had seen how these gatherings grew into massive events in Berlin and London and U.S. cities,” she told Dutch public television broadcaster NPO Monday night, but there had been “absolutely no indication it would be this big”.
The Netherlands has recorded nearly 6,000 deaths from COVID-19. Authorities have issued fines of around $400 for violating rules not to hold public gatherings, but there were almost no police at Monday’s event.