In the Dutch city of The Hague, police broke up a banned climate demonstration and temporarily arrested around 2,400 supporters of the group Extinction Rebellion (XR). The police said there were also numerous minors among them.

It was the group’s eighth blockade of the A12 motorway. Elsewhere in The Hague, the country’s seat of government and parliament, climate activists were able to protest unhindered on Saturday.

The XR demonstrators blocked the A12 in the center of The Hague since midday, the ANP news agency reported. Police officers initially asked them to leave the expressway and to hold their action not far from the main train station, where this would have been allowed. Even after water cannons were used, the XR supporters remained on the highway, according to police. They were then taken away by hundreds of officers and taken in buses to a stadium in The Hague. From there they were later released.

Police: Arrests provoked to get attention

According to its own information, XR wants to block the motorway every day in the future until all government subsidies for fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are eliminated in the Netherlands. The group accuses the government of failing to keep a promise to eliminate tax breaks and other forms of subsidies for aviation, shipping, fossil fuel power generation and oil production.

The Hague police chief Karin Krukkert accused the XR organizers of provoking the arrests to get more attention. In this way, the police are prevented from responding to emergencies and solving crimes. During a similar protest by XR on the A12 at the end of May, almost 1,600 demonstrators were temporarily arrested.