Several hundred people had gathered to voice opposition to government plans to restrict access to indoor venues to people who have a "corona pass", showing they have been vaccinated or already recovered from an infection.
The pass is also available to people who have not been vaccinated, but have proof of a negative test.
Police issued an emergency ordinance in Rotterdam, shutting down public transportation and ordering people to go home. Water cannon were deployed and police on horseback carried out charges to disperse the crowds, police said.
The Netherlands re-imposed some lockdown measures last weekend for an initial three weeks in an effort to slow a resurgence of coronavirus contagion, but daily infections have remained at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.