Charges pressed against rapper Akwasi over old Zwarte Piet tweets
At least two people are pressing charges against Amsterdam rapper Akwasi over tweets he posted in 2011 and 2012 in which he said he wanted to kill blackface Sinterklaas character Zwarte Piet. Akwasi acknowledged that he posted the tweets, but says he doesn't remember them. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) in Amsterdam will "naturally" investigate the charges, a spokesperson said to newspaper AD.
This revolves around posts on Twitter dating back eight and more years ago. In 2011, Akwasi tweeted: "Is anyone ever going to pop a Zwarte Piet or should I do it?" And: "What am I provoking if I kill a Zwarte Piet?" In 2012 he tweeted: "Zwarte Piet must die, man. Seriously." And a few months after an attack on Queen's Day in 2009, the rapper fantasized about blowing up the steamboat that brings Sinterklaas and his blackface companions to the Netherlands every year.
A spokesperson for Akwasi initially denied that he posted these tweets, but Akwasi acknowledged that it was him to De Gelderlander. "I distance myself from the tweets that have surfaced. I don't recognize myself in what I saw. I don't even remember the tweets. Do you remember short texts that are more than twenty years old? Me neither," he said to the newspaper.
Two people are pressing charges against Akwasi, newspaper AD reports based on the declarations. 56-year-old Rick fro Heerlen said that "Akwasi is guilty of creating a very unhealthy and violent climate", in his declaration, according to the newspaper. "This is not freedom of opinion, but an outright threat, racism, hate speech and incitement to violence."
44-year-old Marcel Pekel is in contact with the police in Hoogeveen about filing charges of threats and incitement. "I feel personally threatened by these statements because I have often played Zwarte Piet and I am afraid that in the future we will no longer be safe during Sinterklaas arrivals .Behind the make-up is a Dutch man or woman with family, children and grandchildren," he said in his declaration, according to AD.
Akwasi deactivated his Twitter account after the tweets surfaced. On Instagram he said that in addition to negative reactions, he also received support and "super nice messages" from his followers. "It is almost impossible to respond to all positive posts. I do want to say that I really appreciate all those wonderful messages that I receive. Sincerely," he wrote.
According to De Gelderlander, Akwasi considers the sharing of these old tweets as an attempt to tarnish his name. "I find it terrible to see that so many privileged Dutch people are concerned about keeping this traditional blackface alive, while not paying attention to what your fellow Dutch human beings from a different background want: to be heard and treated with respect."