Arnhem, Nijmegen ban blackface Zwarte Piet
Majorities in the city councils of Arnhem and Nijmegen both decided to ban blackface character Zwarte Piet at future Sinterklaas parties in the city. Instead they will feature alternative Pieten, like Chimney Piet with soot marks on his face instead of blackface makeup. At both municipalities, recent protests against racism and police brutality prompted this decision, RTL Nieuws reports.
In Nijmegen, GroenLinks, PvdA, and animal party PvdD filed a motion against Zwarte Piet. According to the parties, many Nijmegen residents showed during the anti-racism demonstration in the city last week that they experience Zwarte Piet as hurtful and racist. The municipality is already in discussion with the local Sinterklaas committee about how Sintekrlaas' helper will look at the party. The city council decided that the organization would not receive subsidy if it still uses blackface Zwarte Pieten.
In Arnhem, a number of political parties, which together form a council majority, tabled a motion to abolish "the racist caricature Zwarte Piet". According to initiator GroenLinks, Arnhem has been pushing for years to stop blackface at this children's party,but without success. "The protests against racism have shown us that we still have many steps to take, this is just one of them." The Arnhem city council wants the city to not be involved in any gatherings that include Zwarte Piet.
Multiple other cities in the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Groningen and Hilversum, have already banned blackface at their Sinterklaas party, before the anti-racism protests over the past week and a half. The protests also prompted Prime Minister Mark Rutte to say that he now thinks differently about Zwarte Piet.