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Queen’s Day free market to prevent riots

9 April 2007 - Queen’s Day activities such as the ‘free market’ were invented in 1970 in order to prevent riots. The approach was successful, Ons Amsterdam magazine writes.

“After years, at last a Queen’s Day without disturbances in Amsterdam’s inner city. No charges by the police, escaping passers-by, smashed windows or burning barricades”, het Parool wrote on 1 May 1971.

The change had been brought about by local businessmen who had enough of the riots that erupted yearly on 30 April in the second half of the 1960s. Philip John Korthals Altes founded the Oranje Comité (Orange Committee) to change Queen’s Day into an enjoyable party.

For one thing, the police was to show more restraint. In addition, the people had to be kept busy. For that purpose, ‘the whole potpourri of children’s games, amateur performances, sports activities, the free market and all the other ingredients of Queen’s Day as we know it today’ was invented.

In 1980, squatters revived the tradition of Queen’s Day riots.

Source: Ons Amsterdam. Photo: ATCB


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