Riot, arrests after Dutch Facebook party

After a night of violence when police officers were pelted with stones, bottles, tubs of flowers and even bicycles, local officials lined up to denounce those responsible and promise they would be brought to justice.


The estimate of “at least” a million euros ($1.3 million) by the Dutch Association of Insurers (Verbond van Verzekeraars) was part of the fall-out from Friday night’s clashes in the northern town of Haren.

Insurers “would do everything” to ensure the guilty parties contributed to covering the cost of the wreckage, echoing earlier remarks by the justice minister, the association said, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Their association backed a statement released earlier by Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.

“This cannot be tolerated,” said the minister.

“The authors of these acts will be judged, punished and should pay for the damage done,” he added, ANP reported.

Local police chief Oscar Drots, speaking at a news conference aired on public television, said all 34 people arrested would be charged with public disturbance.

Officers had also taken photos of the clashes, he added, which left open the possibility of further arrests.

“An innocent call on Facebook to party led to riots, destruction, looting, fires and injuries in the centre of the town,” Haren mayor Rob Bats said at the same press conference.

The unrest had meant that 500 police officers had to be called to the scene, he added.

Twenty-nine people, including three officers, were injured during the clashes, but no one was seriously hurt, according to Dutch news reports.

Police had been on high alert after the birthday girl posted a message inviting friends to her 16th birthday party on Friday — but forgot to mark it as a private event. That prompted more than 20,000 replies.

Several websites quickly sprang up dedicated to the party, with one publishing the girl’s address and adding, “By all means bring some friends!”

Local officials said between 3,000 and 5,000 people had turned up in the small town, which is home to only 18,000 residents.

Officials had prepared for trouble by blocking access to the girl’s street, banning alcohol consumption near her home and having the teeenager herself quit the premises.

But riot police had to intervene when a couple of hundred drunken youths tried to get into the street.

After pelting the police with missiles as they tried to force their way into the street, groups of rioters moved on to the centre of the town where they wrecked cars, fencing, street lamps and signs.

Some of the party-goers wore T-shirts bearing the words “Project X Haren,” an allusion to the 2012 US teen film “Project X” — about a suburban birthday party that gets out of control after an invitation goes viral.

Previous “Project X” parties have run riot in different parts of the world including Germany, Australia and especially the United States, where teens wrecked an unoccupied Texas home, causing damage of up to $100,000.

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