September 11, 2016

The eel riots of 1886 ended with 26 people and 1 eel dead

Filed under: Animals,History by Branko Collin @ 8:30 pm

In the wake of the 1886 Eel Riots in Amsterdam, Dutch newspapers filled their columns with reports about the event, but it was French magazine l’Illustration that came out with these drawings by M. de Haenen 10 days later.



Fait sur place, these illustrations tell the story of the Palingoproer (eel riots), the bloodiest case of Dutch police brutality in the 19th century.

On Sunday 25 July 1886 a great mass of people gathered on the Lindengracht in Amsterdam to watch a cruel spectacle. Fish sellers had tied a rope between numbers 184 and 119 across what was then still a canal and a live eel had been tied to that rope. Men in small boats had to try and pull the eel from the rope—the winner would get the princely sum of 6 guilders, almost a week’s wages. This sport was called palingtrekken (eel pulling) and by that time already outlawed.

Four officers from nearby police station Noordermarkt decided to put a halt to the spectacle. They entered one of the houses to which the rope was tied and used a pocket knife to cut down the rope. Apparently the rope hit one of the spectators who started thwacking the police with his umbrella as soon as they left the building. Fast forward a couple of hours and a full blown riot was going on with police using their sabres and rioters throwing pavers.

Nightfall came and a drizzle helped to cool tempers. The next day, however, rioters stormed the police station which led to the army getting out their guns. As soon as the smoke had cleared (smokeless powder had only been invented two years earlier and was being introduced slowly to European armies), 26 rioters lay dead and observers (reporters, essayists, historians) started to explain what it was that just had happened.

Right-wing rags Algemeen Handelsblad and NRC, and the mayor of Amsterdam, tried to blame the socialists for being the instigators, but the public prosecutor thought that conclusion was preposterous—royalist inhabitants of the nearby Willemsstraat had even thrown red and black flags into the canal that the socialists had quickly brought to the scene of the riots.

Two thousands rioters were given prison sentences, police officers were treated to cigars and in 1913 the eel that involuntarily started it all showed up at an auction where it was sold for 1,75 guilders and was never seen again.

(Images: / M. de Haenen)

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December 4, 2008

Cruelty to animals used as music video effect

Filed under: Animals,Art,Music by Branko Collin @ 8:51 am

The music video for Amsterdam based rockband zZz’s track Running with the Beast has been pulled by Youtube, according to Omroep Brabant (Dutch). The video apparently shows two roosters fighting. The cocks were smeared with paint before being put into a tiny arena, and were made to fight on top of paper sheets which were later used to produced the artwork for the CD and for posters and so on.

In an elaborate statement (PDF), the band managed to claim that “no animals were injured.” Indeed, “for legal reasons the video was shot in Bangkok, Thailand.”

See also Dozens of hamsters freed from plastic balls for another tale of artists abusing animals for their own personal gain showing the inherent hypocrisy of people who don’t want to be confronted with the maltreatment of animals, but who will for instance gladly enjoy the fruits of factory farming.

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March 17, 2008

Circus combats animal rights activists using elephant pee

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 3:04 pm

Animals rights activists claim they have been sprayed with elephant urine by circus employees last Saturday in Hoogeveen. The activists said that employees of Circus Renz Berlin used water pistols to shoot at them. When the police arrived at the scene everything was quiet again, although a threatening atmosphere was still lingering in the air according to an unnamed police spokesperson. The police confiscated one water gun that contained a “foul smelling substance”.


(Illustration by Monroe. Used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2.)

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January 26, 2008

Dozens of hamsters freed from plastic balls

Filed under: Animals,Art by Branko Collin @ 3:12 pm

Last Thursday the Society for the Protection of Animals raided an Amsterdam art gallery in co-operation with the local police to free dozens of hamsters. The animals were part of an exhibition by artist Tinkebell (pseudonym of Katinka Simonse) called Empathy. In the exhibition hamsters were locked up in plastic, see-through play-balls, set in a recreated living room. With the exhibition Tinkebell wants to expose the “ambiguous morality of animal rights and environmental activists” by using the “often na├»ve ideas that people—activists—have about the concept of freedom in the animal world.” The balls she uses (so called “run-about balls”) are popular with pet owners, who use them to let their pets roam relatively free through the house “without the worry of escape or injury,” as one merchant calls it.

The artist is in the dark about the why of the raid. “Nobody told me anything,” she told Amsterdam TV channel AT5. According to AT5, Tinkebell and the galery owner will be questioned by the police next week.

Tinkebell caused an earlier uproar when she killed her three year old cat to turn it into a handbag. In the TV program De Wereld Draait Door she suggested that it was a mercy killing, claiming the cat was depressed.

Via Fok (Dutch). Source image: Empathy.

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