FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A March 2021 Protest In The Netherlands?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Facebook claims to show a scene from a recent protest in the Netherlands.

Verdict: False

The image is from a 2013 protest in Bulgaria, not a 2021 event in the Netherlands.

Fact Check:

A large protest against COVID-19 restrictions took place on March 20 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and ended with police in riot gear breaking up the demonstration, according to DutchNews.nl. An image shared on Facebook that same day shows a tearful woman grasping the shoulders of a police officer in riot gear and staring into his eyes, allegedly showing “Netherlands today.”

Through a reverse image search, however, Check Your Fact found that the image has been online for several years. The photo was included in a November 2013 BuzzFeed News article bearing the headline “The Story Behind This Powerful Photo Of A Police Officer And A Student Protester.” The photo, according to the article, was taken by photographer Stefan Stefanov and was posted in November 2013 on the photo-sharing website Imgur by user plamentanev and is titled “This is what is happening in Bulgaria.”

“This photo really moved me so much that i decided to try and raise awarenes (sic) to what is going on in my country,” the image’s description reads on Imgur. “This girl was crying and begging the policeman not to hit her or any of her friends. Then the policeman started crying aswell (sic) and he said to her : ‘You just hold on girl.’”

In November 2013, thousands of Bulgarians had taken to the streets to protest “harsh austerity measures, high youth unemployment, lack of government transparency, and rampant government corruption,” according to worldpolicy.org. (RELATED: Does This Video Show An Anti-Lockdown Protest In London?)

Stefanov sat down with Agence France-Presse (AFP) in 2014 to discuss the photo, which by then had gained considerable exposure and appeared in the 2014 sci-fi movie “The Giver,” according to AFP. In the interview, he confirmed the photo was taken during a protest in Bulgaria. The image caught the 16-year-old Dessy Nikolova thanking a police officer, the outlet reported.

“I did not know the girl but I had seen her emotional reactions during previous rallies,” Stefanov told AFP.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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