Two arrested in blackface argument on social media
Rotterdam police arrested two men on Friday morning after they exchanged heated messages back and forth on social media. One person was in favor of the winter mythical character, Zwarte Piet, remaining in blackface, while the other was opposed to the character, police said.
Only the 57-year-old man from Amsterdam was accused of making a threat. Both he and a 26-year-old from Utrecht are alleged of encouraging public disorder and criminal behavior.
Police say they are monitoring social media networks in advance of the national arrival of Sinterklaas, an annual event taking place this year in Maassluis. The arrival is scheduled for Saturday, with many of the Zwarte Piet characters expected to be in blackface makeup. A growing, years-long debate over the racially divisive use of blackface has led some actors to use ash-like smears across their face instead, while others go as Piet in different colors of makeup.
Maassluis is preparing for the event by bringing in additional police and outside security guards to screen and monitor attendees. Barriers will also be used to try and keep protesters away from the scene.
The added security was called a "disgrace" by Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher. Also the social affairs minister, Asscher said the situation is "bizarre," questioning the need for added security while cautioning everyone to keep their hands to themselves.
Protesters from Kick Out Zwarte Piet, and ultra right-wing nationalist group NVU are expected to demonstrate at the event, reported the NRC.