At nine in the morning, no less than ten skylights and front doors and windows were strewn across the monsignor. Van de Weteringstra in Utrecht. Since the curfew was imposed at the end of January, Jorge Arraneda has been hitting a frying pan here every night in protest against the Corona measure. After his arrest on Tuesday, neighbors will take charge of him on Wednesday evening. People scream on pans, shake a tambourine, hit the hotel table, and a trumpet sounded briefly as well.
Araneda himself is squatting on the edge of his bedroom window, this time not with his ladle and tub, but rather clapping softly. Balaclava partially conceals how emotional he is when supporting his neighbors. “Beautiful,” he says in Spanish.
Jorge Arraneda was born in 1974, the year following the military coup against the left-wing, democratically elected president of Allende, in Chile. He grew up in the dictatorship of General Pinochet, and although he had a “very happy childhood”, full of days on the beach and in a nice family, he also remembers that we “used to hit a frying pan in the house a lot, against the curfew.” Into effect when mr [Pinochet, red.] Wanted that. I remember the days when the light was still low and we had to be inside anyway. ”
Araneda has broader criticisms of the response to the pandemic. He does not banish the virus, but he believes all measures “dampen our immune system.” According to him, people cannot spend that long without being together, being touched, exercising, or going out at night. Actions against the pandemic actually make us more vulnerable. He has also not been able to work as a cook for months.
So when the curfew went into effect in the Netherlands on January 23, the Araneda was full. From day one, he’d hit a skillet with a ladle every evening from 9pm. Its duration is thirteen minutes, because thirteen is a “lucky number” for him. On his window hangs a poster calling for this casserole, A popular way of expressing social discontent in South America. He placed the poster on the bus in file format and explained his motives in a letter to the neighborhood.
Not everyone agreed with the protest hype in recent weeks, but the arrest was almost unanimously condemned as excessive.
Spoons and pans
This part of prosperous East Utrecht, the Buitten Furuen neighborhood, is a mixture of one-and-a-half-story workers’ homes and mansions with a ground floor and a cellar. Arraneda’s arrest basically caused major unrest among his neighbors on adjacent Appelstraat, a dead-end street with an air of courtyard. In the neighborhood group appOur Appelstraatje“There is a lot of discussion every Wednesday. Not everyone agreed with the hype protest in recent weeks, but the police action was almost unanimously condemned as excessive.
The arrest did not come from a vacuum. In the past seven weeks, police have already reached the door at least six times and have been fined three times (149 euros), says Araneda, in his living room based on a pile of documents. On Sunday, officers carried a search warrant and confiscated a foam spoon, frying pan, spoon, and bowl. The confiscation did not prevent him from continuing his protest, and he was forced to go to the center on Tuesday evening.
The police came with two cars and four policemen. According to neighbors, they were equipped with a ram to force the doors. A police spokesman confirmed that Araneda was arrested Tuesday “after multiple reports of noise pollution,” warnings and fines. “We are not treating this as a protest, but as a nuisance.”
The neighbor Jan, who did not want his last name in the newspaper, was shocked. “With all due respect to Jorge, some see him as a bit like a village idiot. But he is a fool of our village.” He initially thought Araneda’s warnings against the police state were overblown, but he has become less confident since Tuesday.
Stefan Kuijman and Arnod Bruennet, who live just below Appelstraat, are also amazed at the police intervention. Fortunately, their son slept through casserole far. “And I get it when people think: Do you have that noise again, the kids have just stopped. This is not the way to refer to this to anyone,” Kuijman says.
They themselves are not against the curfew. “But I think a person who is having a hard time should speak up if they provide a good reason for it.” In this sense, the Araneda protest differs from the neighbor who starts doing strange actions with training at nine o’clock, they think.
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The municipality called him in the afternoon of the day after his arrest and announced that he might protest. “But there are rules in the Netherlands and that I have to apply for a permit,” Araneda laughs. In the neighbors app, something else has already been thought of: they’ll make noise instead, so that their neighbor can skip an evening. To show support after arrest and not to protest the curfew. Some are also afraid of “us thinking” or “making Jorge more trouble.”
Even just before nine, it’s still unclear who will take the call and who won’t. The answer comes at nine in the morning, when the chime rises from at least ten houses. Only at 9.17 p.m., when calm had already returned again, a police car drove past the Araneda home at a brisk pace.
On Thursday evening, Araneda reported: The local police officer, after consulting with complaining neighbors, proposes a settlement. If he limits his public protest to seven minutes, they will no longer report any inconvenience. Aranida agrees and will soon be seated as well with the Complainants.
Appendix (March 11, 2021): This article was updated Thursday evening with the compromise reached between complaining neighbors and Araneda regarding shortening the protest to the noise.
A copy of this article also appeared on nrc.next on March 12, 2021