Zwarte Piet protestors: "The system has failed"; Dozens arrested at Sinterklaas events
After a weekend that saw anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators attacked by threats, racist epithets, and with eggs and beer cans hurled at them, the activists of Kick Out Zwarte Piet said they are disappointed in city governance in the Netherlands. Protestors were physically and verbally assaulted during the Sinterklaas arrival events in Eindhoven, Groningen, and Leeuwarden, while threats of violence forced the cancellation of a protest in Nijmegen.
"We were humiliated, scolded, and threatened," said Jerry Afriyie, a leading figure in KOZP, to the Parool. "Children rose up with raised middle fingers and sang racist chants, while the people around them clapped along," he continued. Afriyie said the police acted inadequately in Eindhoven, where he protested this weekend.
Six people were arrested in Eindhoven, with some charged for violent crimes. Police referred to the troublemakers as "a group of football hooligans that sought out confrontation with demonstrators from activist group Kick Out Zwarte Piet."
It was in Eindhoven where eggs and beer cans were thrown at activists. "This weekend has proven that the government cannot guarantee the right to demonstrate," Afriyie said.
The police reported four arrests in Zaandijk at the national Sinterklaas arrival, where 25,000 people were in attendance.
In Hoorn, two people were held for using a Nazi salute as a means of disrupting public order, police claimed.
Rotterdam saw two pro-Zwarte Piet supporters and one anti-Zwarte Piet activist arrested after a group jumped out of two cars preparing to attack the KOZP group crossing the Erasmus Bridge.
Two people were taken into custody in Leeuwarden, another in Groningen, and one in Gouda.
Football rioters were also believed to be behind attacks in Leeuwarden and Groningen, as well as the early threats in Nijmegen. Afriyie called on the football clubs to intervene, particularly at PSV Eindhoven, which he calls his favorite club.
On Sunday, some 48 people were round up by police in Tilburg early in the day. Police detained suspects between the ages of 13 and 51 to prevent violence from happening. "Today we have made many children happy in Tilburg, and celebrated a beautiful and festive Sinterklaas walk, and at the same time we have given people the freedom to express their opinions freely," said Tilburg's mayor Theo Weterings.
"[The anti-Zwarte Piet activists] reported to us in advance and presented a peaceful demonstration in which they have kept to the agreements made. It is a pity that another group wanted to disrupt this. The police intervened forcefully so that irregularities are prevented."