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Website against meddlesome police

25 October 2007 - Photographer Theo Niekus and street musician Trevor Oosterling are fed up with meddlesome police and have launched a protest website. Oosterling says that the police know about the website and have become ‘considerably more friendly’ since.

On 20 June, Niekus was fined for hanging around ‘with no reasonable purpose’. Niekus, who was taking photographs at the Damrak, refused to pay the fine and decided to go to court instead. His case will be heard tomorrow at 11.30 am at the Parnassusweg court.

Oosterling, who says he used to be in the special forces and has been homeless for four years, says it becomes more and more difficult to survive on the streets. “All the shelters are crammed and unhygienic at that [...] It is not allowed to live on a camping permanently; it is not allowed to live in garden houses; it is not allowed to sleep in cars”.

Niekus and Oosterling seem to have fallen victim to zero tolerance policies aimed at the homeless and drug addicts. They are not the first: last summer, Parool journalist Peter van Brummelen was fined for falling asleep on a bench in the Oosterpark.

Photo: police intimidation website (in Dutch)

UPDATE 26 October 2007 - Today, the court acquitted Niekus, ruling that he should not have been fined. However, judge J. Westhoff did find that Niekus and the Photographers’ Federation had blown the incident out of proportion, resulting in massive media attention. “Small matters should be kept small, so as to serve the rechtsstaat”.

Source: de Telegraaf (in Dutch)


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