A Royal Protest
When a young Queen Beatrix decided to celebrate her first Queen’s Day in Breda, rumours quickly spread about hundreds of youths planning to demonstrate against this. Willem Merkx, then mayor of Breda, was afraid things would escalate so on the early morning of April 30 1981 he decided to preventatively arrest people, before there was any case of civil disorder.
This mostly happened based on appearance: a leather jacket, a button or having long hair as a man was enough. In total, 148 people were violently arrested, and spent the rest of the day in a police cage without food, water or sanitary facilities.
The arrests lead to a national demonstration with the slogan ‘Stop Politiegeweld Nu’ (stop police violence now), held on June 27 1981 in Amsterdam, Groningen, Roermond, Utrecht and Breda.
The painting was made during History Month, themed ‘protest’, for which the students did research at Stadsarchief Breda (city archives). The painting is located on the new BN de Stem (newspaper) office, which is the former police station