90 arrested in Gouda Zwarte Piet protest
Nearly 90 people were arrested in Gouda yesterday for arguing over the presence of blackfaced Zwarte Piet characters at the city’s annual arrival of Sinterklaas celebration. Those taken into custody were a mix of protestors and Zwarte Piet supporters, police told broadcaster Omroep West.
Sources tell the NL Times that the protestors were peaceful and non-violent. “We should not interfere with the kids in such a way,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte told broadcaster NOS while campaigning in Den Bosch. "Everyone can talk about Black Pete's colour but you can't disturb a children's party like that," he reportedly said. He called the situation very sad, a sentiment repeated by Gouda Mayor Milo Schoenmaker. "It's a pity that adults from outside the city felt the need to demonstrate among the children at the end of the procession," Schoenmaker announced. The arrested protestors chose to mix in with the audience in an effort to make themselves heard, instead of gathering in one of two areas the city designated as protest zones. This sparked a war of words between the protestors and many in the audience, police say.
All 90 were released, with most receiving fines of 220 euros. Sixty were held for protesting outside of the designated areas, and thirty for disorderly conduct.