Monday, February 15, 2016 - 07:48
Activist dies after tense Zwarte Piet protest
One person died over the weekend after participating in a protest against Swarte Pyt, the Frisian version of Zwarte Piet also portrayed in blackface makeup. The protestor died of natural causes on a bus returning to the Randstad area after the protest in Grou, Friesland on Saturday, according to the Leeuwarder Courant. Swarte Pyt is Grou's version of Zwarte Piet. The Grou region does not celebrate Sinterklaas on December 5th, but Sint Piter on February 21st. His arrival was on Saturday. Anti-Zwarte Piet protest group Kick Out Zwarte Piet arranged a bus from Amsterdam and Rotterdam to transport some 30 protesters to Grou on Saturday, so that they could demonstrate against this version of Zwarte Piet. The Leeuwarden Mayor assigned them a place to protest, but due to delays the protesters arrived too late and Sint Piter and Swarte Pyt already passed their protest spot by the time they arrived, according to Omrop Fryslan. The atmosphere became tense when protesters tried to march through the town, shouting slogans, in an effort to get close to Swarte Pyt. Some protesters and Swarte Pyt supporters started debating with each other and there was "some pushing and shoving", according to the Leeuwarder Courant. The bus carrying the protesters left the town again around noon. On the way back to the Randstad, one of the passengers had a heart attack. The bus pulled over in Herenveen and emergency services tried to resuscitate the man, but to no avail. According to The Black Dutchman, several pro-Zwarte Piet Facebook pages are celebrating the protester's death and wishing for more to die.