Jouke Hospes, the 16-year-old that was shot at by Dutch police for participating in a distribution centre blockade, says that he is currently under investigation for attempted manslaughter.
In a message obtained by The Counter Signal, Hospes says that he was shocked to see a video of the incident that led to his arrest after being released from prison.
“I still can’t figure out why the police fired. The images [and video] show very well that I’m not doing anything wrong… I’m lucky that I survived.”
He continues, saying that he is now under an active investigation for attempted manslaughter.
“I have been released but am still a suspect tonight in my own bed,” Hospes says. [translated from Dutch]
The incident occurred late Tuesday night at roughly 11:30 pm. Police claimed that the teen attempted to ram into police and vehicles and had fired warning shots before firing two “targeted shots.”
“At about 10:40 pm, tractor drivers attempted to drive into officers and service vehicles. This happened at the entrance Mercurius/A32 in Heerenveen. A threatening situation arose. Warning shots were fired, and targeted shots were fired,” Politie Fryslân tweeted following the incident. [translated from Dutch]
“A tractor was hit. A tractor drove away from the incident and was stopped shortly afterwards on Jousterweg. Three suspects have been arrested. No one was injured.”
However, while police claim that Hospes attempted to ram into them before they fired two shots at him, videos taken by onlookers tell a very different story.
Indeed, Hospes was driving very slowly in his tractor, was as far away from the officers as he could be without going off the road, and was clearly attempting to leave the scene without incident.
Hospes describes the moments leading up to his arrest, saying when farmers heard that a mobile police unit was going to sweep the distribution centre blockade, they collectively decided it was time to break it up and were already starting to leave when police arrived on the scene.
“We were all at a [distribution centre] in Heerenveen on the industrial estate. Then the [mobile unit] reported they were going to sweep. So we decided to leave, and we all drove through Heerenveen… We decided to go for a last round to make ourselves heard and then go home,” Hospes says.
“I left the procession through Heerenveen, then the frontrunner went up the ramp at Oranjewoud, towards the MAC Heerenveen. The first exit was immediately taken, and there were police cars below. A large part [of the blockade convoy] flew around it, but there were still a few people in front of me.”
“Behind me, it was clear, so I decided to go around it. I calmly crossed the sidewalk and drove very calmly. I went to see if traffic was approaching and if I could cross the road. I was driving [slowly], and suddenly I heard a PANG in my right ear. I thought there soon would be a second one.”
“I didn’t have any damage, so I thought it was a rubber bullet… Then, however, I stopped for a while at Oudehaske, and when I was walking around the tractor, I saw a hole in the iron. After that, all kinds of thoughts went through my head.”
Indeed, images taken after the shooting show clear bullet holes, suggesting that officers were using live rounds against protesters.
Hospes was later arrested and subsequently freed the next day after Dutch protesters showed up in droves outside the prison holding him.
While free for now, Hospes still faces attempted manslaughter charges.
Speaking outside the jail, TCS Editor-in-Chief Keean Bexte asked one protester if it’s normal for police in the Netherlands to shoot at protesters as they did last night.
“No. Only when it’s life-threatening for them [can they] shoot. But it was not life-threatening,” one protester said.
“Do you think that the Prime Minister has created a climate where police think that they’re allowed to do stuff like this?” Bexte asked.
“Yes. It means that [in] this moment, for minor things, they can arrest you or shoot you and put you in jail,” the protester responded.
As previously reported by The Counter Signal, the police’s actions come after several municipalities declared emergency ordinance orders, bestowing upon police unprecedented powers to deal with protesters blockading food distribution centres.
Since the orders were declared, police have been seen wearing military-style equipment, have used tear gas against protesters, and have now shown that they’re willing to fire on anyone, even a teenage boy.
The officer who fired at Hospes has since gone into hiding.