Rotterdam mayor allowed to ban anti-Zwarte Piet protest: court

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb was authorized to ban a demonstration against Zwarte Piet in November 2016, the court in Rotterdam ruled. Activist group Kick Out Zwarte Piet wanted to protest in Rotterdam during the arrival of Sinterklaas in November 2016. Mayor Aboutaleb banned this demonstration out of fear of disturbances. Some 200 demonstrators were arrested.

The judge said that the right to demonstrate is good and important, but it can sometimes be ignored if there is danger, RTV Rijnmond reports. As the activists had not announced their demonstration, the mayor could not take sufficient security measures. "There was insufficient police capacity on that day to steer the ad hoc demonstration of Kick Out Zwarte Piet in the right direction."

"The mayor rightly took into account the need to prevent children arriving at the arrival from ending up in a confrontation between demonstrators and counter-groups", the judge said. According to the mayor, there were indications that Feyenorod hooligans and right-wing groups wanted to get into a fight with Kick Out Zwarte Piet.

The activists said that they did not announce the demonstration, because it was a last minute decision. They planned to demonstrate at the national Sinterklaas arrival in Maassluis, but were stopped along the way.