Sunday night a man was killed in the Ondiep neighborhood of Utrecht. Rini Mulder had been fighting with a group of immigrant youth when the police showed up. The police agent felt threatened and shot Mulder dead. Since then there have been riots in the neighborhood, with 135 people arrested so far. This is a roundup of news on the issue.
Ondiep is a neighborhood built in the twenties, with many small and cheap social rentals. It is also one of the most crowded neighborhoods of Utrecht.
About 13,000 live in Ondiep. There are 71% ethnic Dutch residents, 6% Moroccan and 6% Turkish. The municipality implemented there a demolition-building program "Utrecht Vernieuwt" (Utrecht Renovates). Some residents have already moved to their new houses. Those who have stayed behind live among vacancies.
A neighbor complains that the new houses are very expensive. "I already pay 410 euro rent. That's just possible. But yes, they want richer people in this neighborhood."
A neighborhood alderman says that the neighborhood is at a very tedious point in the renewing process. A third of the houses are currently empty and it will go up to half, with the situation continuing for several months.
Meanwhile, the neighborhood deteriorates. The social control is decreasing. Ideal for the group that hung around on Sunday. One the first nice day of the year, they started again with the loud music, the sneering at residents, the intimidation.
Rini Mulder would have soon moved to his new house. He was looking forward to it and had gone there several times a day to see how it was getting on. It was have finally freed him from the provocative assaults of the immigrant youth. That night Mulder had enough. He took a knife and went out to teach them manners. Nobody expected him to attack somebody with a knife, but it was known that the "pain in the neck" youth had become an obsession for him. He talked about it often.
There are rumors that the police agent who shot Mulder is Moroccan or Turkish. A poster on one of the Moroccan forums claimed he knew the police agent and that he was Turkish. The police denies this. According to the policemen that is "absolutely not true". The post had since been removed.
Residents of the neighborhood think that the riots broke out not just because of the anger and grief about Mulder's death. "They do nothing against those bastards who ruin the neighborhood here." says Ali Kwarten, a neighbor, "That is frustration number one."
Another man standing by agrees. Is is a friend of Mulder's "for thirty years". On Sunday evening they fought together against the group Dutch-Turkish youth. "He had ten of the boys on him, and I had ten too." According to him Rini put up his arm when the police finally arrived. With a knife in his hands. "But he didn't threaten. He wanted to let them know that he's the one who had called the police."
The police agent felt threatened and shot Mulder in his chest. Another neighbor says "If you need them, they never come. Call 112 [for the police] if the nuisances becomes serious, they say then. Then is it already too late."
Meanwhile, the police placed cameras around the neighborhood, and has closed it off to non-residents. The closure of the neighborhood will be reviewed day by day and the fines for those entering are going up as well. Tuesday the fine stood at 200 euro, Wednesday 300 euro and Thursday 400 euro. According to Utrecht's mayor, Brouwer, the closure is the most important lesson of the riots in Den Bosch, in April 2005, when residents rioted after a resident had been shot by police. The municipality had organized a meeting with the residents, but called it off.
Tomorrow there's a silent march planned in Mulder's memory. His funeral is slated for Saturday.
Sources: AD.nl 1, 2 , Volkskrant, Brabant Dagblad 1, 2, Reformatorisch Dagblad, Trouw (Dutch)
See also: Utrecht: Riots, More can be found on Klein Verzet and Snouck