Remembrance Day, Dam Square, Amsterdam, Netherlands for Richard
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4 May 2010
Every year since 1945 the Dutch celebrate the end of Nazi Germany's occupation with Remembrance Day and then Liberation Day. Since we were going to be in Amsterdam on 4 and 5 May I thought we should go down to Dam Square and check out the ceremony that the Queen held. The entire city would observe a two minute moment of silence for all those lost in the war. This meant all public transportation would come to a halt.
We walked to Dam Square (along with 20,000 other people) to take in the Dutch Remembrance Day ceremony and half way into the moment of silence the panic began. An on line Dutch tourist site reported what happened next:
â€œDutchAmsterdam.nl â€” Dozens of people were injured last night when panic broke out in a crowd gathered at Amsterdamâ€™s Dam Square for the national Remembrance Day commemorations.
Police arrested the man who caused the panic.
The man, described by witnesses as â€˜confused,â€™ had at first been mumbling incoherently. One minute into the 2 minutes of silence observed as part of the ceremony he suddenly gave a 5-seconds-long, loud scream.
This caused bystanders to panic and try to push through the crowd, away from the man.
In the process a security fence fell over with a sharp, shot-like sound, creating panic further away in the 20.000-strong crowd.
In the confusion one man inadvertently dropped his briefcase. Someone yelled, â€œBomb! Bomb! Escape!â€ adding to the panic.
Police say 63 people were injured. Injuries included scrapes, bruises and some broken bones.
Last year a man purposely drove his car into the crowd watching the royal motorcade at the Queenâ€™s Day celebrations in Apeldoorn. Police described that incident as an attempted attack on the Royal Family.
During the incident at Dam Square members of the Royal Family were quickly ushered away. They soon returned and the ceremony, which includes the laying of wreaths at the National Monument, continued.
Police superintendent Bernard Welten told the press the arrested man was well known to the police, having been previously arrested for theft, assault, drug trafficking and drug possession.
The manâ€™s identity has not been released, but police reports he is being held in extended custody because in addition to disturbance of public order is also suspected of causing grievous bodily harm by negligence.
The suspect has made no statement. Nothing is known about the motives for his behavior.â€
Friends of ours told us months later that they were told by people living in Amsterdam that the "official" story was not true and that the man had actually tried to kill the Queen. Either way, Brenda was terrified and couldn't understand why I was pushing her to the building wall and not down the street with the panicked mob. Just after I took this shot I had moved her from the middle of the crowd to the outer edge so we could get a tram if we didn't want to walk back to the hotel. And so it goes.
Thanks to Carol Holmes for the spotlight.
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