"Both sides" on Zwarte Piet caused fights at Sinterklaas parties: Dutch PM
"Extremists on both sides" of the Zwarte Piet issue caused problems at the Sinterklaas arrivals around the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday. Rutte conceded that the issues were "overwhelmingly" due to "pro-Zwarte Piet demonstrators."
Dozens of people were taken into police custody across the Netherlands over the weekend. Reports from the police department largely indicated that those arrested were not people protesting Zwarte Piet, but people assaulting or interfering with those protests.
It was "unacceptable" that some rioters even used a Nazi salute, Rutte told members of parliament when answering their questions. "They have uttered the most awful racist phrases, and even brought forth a Hitler salute."
Protests in Eindhoven were most widely reported on in the Netherlands, where members of activist group Kick Out Zwarte Piet were subjected to racial taunts and misogynistic rants, before eggs, cans of beer, and cookies were thrown at them. One leader of KOZP called it a failure of government that their right to demonstrate was not better protected.
KOZP spent several weeks planning their protests in conjunction with local governments. Many counter-protesters also tried to work with local governments to establish their positions.
"Fortunately, things went well in many places, but in many places they did not. There were crying children," Rutte said. He added that it is fine for the populace to discuss Zwarte Piet, but everyone still has to live together.