Unlike the United States, where protests against coronavirus pandemic measures such as vaccine mandates, mask mandates, and lockdowns have been somewhat more muted, at least recently, perhaps with the notable exception of one major rally in NYC that targeted the offices of The New York Times and CNN, Europe is presently being gripped by a giant wave of police violence in which governments of mostly Western European countries are brutally cracking down on demonstrators.
The worst police brutality excesses have been in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria, and yet, despite the forceful riot police clampdowns, the protests are showing no sign of abating.
Over the weekend, there were also massive demonstrations against COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, and in Northern Ireland in the UK.
Unruly protests, violent crackdowns
Some of the worst rioting over the weekend was in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, where seven people were injured, with the police actually resorting to firing live rounds in order to intimidate the protesters.
On Sunday, rioters rallying in the northern Dutch city of Groningen started large fires and pelted the riot police with stones as they rallied for the third consecutive night against COVID-19 measures.
In Brussels, the capital of Belgium, and also the seat of the institutions of the European Union and NATO, some 40,000 protesters marched against a return of a strict lockdown over spiking COVID infection numbers, which included banning unvaccinated people from bars and restaurants.
The riot police responded to the throwing of projectiles by rioters with tear gas and water cannons.
The march of the demonstrators was called “Together for Freedom”, and saw clashes with the police precisely at the EU and Belgian government district.
The police arrested a total of 42 protesters, while three officers were injured and rushed to hospital.
One protester got injured when a firework blew up in his hands.
Meanwhile, in Austria’s capital Vienna, there were giant demonstrations as the country appears to have the world strictest restrictions, including banning those unvaccinated from leaving their homes, and mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all of its citizens.
According to ministers from Austria’s Cabinet, the measures in question have become unavoidable since the country’s hospitals are being overwhelmed by the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Germany, which has a ten times larger population than Austria, also appeared set to follow its example.
Spiking 4th and 5th waves
The World Health Organization has recently warned that Europe is the only world region where COVID-19 fatalities are increasing, with deaths spiking by 5% last week.
On Sunday alone, Belgium, a country of 10 million people, saw nearly 14,000 new COVID-19 cases.
Germany, with its 83 million population, reported more than 48,000 new infections on Saturday.
Unlike, Germany and Austria, which are at their fourth wave, France is experiencing its fifth coronavirus wave, with infections skyrocketing at an alarming rate.
Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn just warned that he can’t rule out an Austrian-type total lockdown.