Amsterdam Mayor, Femke Halsema, announced on Thursday that in total three horses were injured during the illegal demonstration that occurred on the Museumplein last weekend.
The horses had all been hit on the head. One eight-year-old horse even received four blows. “It was his first deployment”, the mayor said in a council hearing. Halsema called the violence “unacceptable and terrible”. The horses will not be in service for the time being.
Marianne Sloet a veterinary professor told RTL Nieuws that “such mistreatment has a huge impact” on an animal. “In the worst case, it can lead to horses not being capable of deployment any longer.”
Still, the professor thinks it is a good idea that horses are part of the police force. “They are important for the maintenance of order. Horses command respect, but you also ensure that officers are more relatable due to the friendly nature of the animals.”
Halsema also commented on the rumors that officers themselves had provoked attacks, “The mere suggestion that police are inciting violence to the detriment of their colleagues and thereby, violating their oath, is distressing.”
In response to images of a demonstrator with injuries to the head, she said, “The person that can be seen on social media with a bloody head was someone who only moments earlier kicked a member of the riot squad.”
The illegal demonstration took place on Sunday afternoon. Some 2 thousand people crowded onto the square to protest against the coronavirus restrictions and the Rutte cabinet.
Officially, a judge had ruled earlier that only 500 people were to be present and the protest had to take place at Westerpark where there would be more space to ensure proper social distancing.
Organizer Michel Reijinga ignored that ordered and asked for people to “come drink coffee with him” at the Museumplein, which ended in the arrest of 143 demonstrators.