18 suspects ID'd in highway blockade of anti-Zwarte Piet protestors

Kick Out Zwarte Piet blocked from protesting racism in Friesland Netherlands on Sinterklaas
The A7 highway blocked near Heerenveen by about 35 people refusing to let groups of people pass through to protest Zwarte Piet, blackface and racism at the Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum, Friesland. 18 Nov. 2017photo: "Otto" / Kick Out Zwarte Piet

Some 18 suspects were identified during a criminal investigation into the unauthorized highway shutdown meant to stop protestors from marching against Zwarte Piet last November. Police notified the suspects that they are wanted for questioning, the public prosecutor's office announced on Monday.

Charges are possible for "blocking a public road, danger or obstruction of a motorway, and the prevention of a demonstration." All 18 identified suspects are residents of Friesland, the prosecutor said. Another 13 suspects have yet to be identified, but investigators are optimistic about finding them.

Several buses packed with protestors who consider the Sinterklaas helper, and the use of blackface, to be a racist relic drove from Amsterdam and Rotterdam towards Dokkum on November 18 where last year's official Sinterklaas arrival took place. They were near Heerenveen, also in Friesland and about 50 kilometers away, when many drivers used their vehicles to stop traffic on the A7 near where the 130 kilometer per hour speed limit reduces down to 100 km/h.

"It seems like the extreme right really blocked us from exercising our freedom of speech, and none of them were arrested," said one Kick Out Zwarte Piet member to NL Times. The protestor, identified as "Otto", added, "There were about 30 white men, and a few white women, and some of them got out of their vehicles and were banging on the windows of our buses."

It was a "scary" situation, he said, one in which a police representative called "life threatening and punishable" on the day of the incident.

Police responded to the scene, but the protestors said they were forced to wait for 45 minutes before police escorted them to Dokkum. By the time they arrived, they were not allowed to protest as they missed the time slot permitted for the organized demonstration by the municipality.

"Zwarte Piet shows how extreme Dutch people can become when you try to criticize racism or Dutch society. What happened proves our point," Otto noted.

The 18 suspects will be questioned in January, the prosecutor said.

Bus met demonstranten van #KOZP wordt geblokkeerd op de snelweg richting #Dokkum door pro-Pieten!

Bus of a group of anti-blackface protestors got blocked on the high way by extreme right activists, police doesnt do anything!

- Mitchell Esajas

Stop Blackface

Geplaatst door Jessy de Abreu op Zaterdag 18 november 2017