Zwarte Piet protesters accused of creating “frightening, threatening atmosphere”

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Zwarte Piet protesters created a "frightening, threatening atmosphere" at the Reigerbos in Amsterdam Zuidoost mall during Sinterklaas arrival on Saturday, according to the shopkeepers' association in the area. The association now wants clarification from the district because the permit for the party did not give permission for a demonstration by Zwarte Piet opponents.

Several dozen protesters gathered to demonstrate against the controversial character, Het Parool reports. According to Hans Visser, president of the shopkeepers association, the problems arose when a small group of protesters began chanting anti-Zwarte Piet slogans with clenched fists in the air. "That immediately created a frightening, threatening atmosphere. Some parents took their children home. The group sought confrontation with the police and tried to prevent Sinterklaas reaching the podium." he said to the newspaper.

The association made arrangements about the appearance of Zwarte Piet in advance. "Our Pieten are black, but otherwise we follow the municipality's line: no earrings, no red lips, no curls. Apparentl that was not enough", Visser said, adding that they even added some white-face pirates, but these too were insulted and verbally attacked. "The demonstrators acted very aggressively."

In consultation with the police, the association eventually decided to move the party to an enclosed space. Visser told the newspaper that he understands the protesters point of view. "I have my opinion, they have their opinion. These people have every right to express their opinion. But that should not happen by scaring parents and children."