Rapper Akwasi's anti-Zwarte Piet statement punishable, Prosecutor said

Dutch rapper Akwasi
Dutch rapper AkwasiDWDDWikimedia CommonsCC-BY

A statement that Amsterdam rapper Akwasi made about blackface Zwarte Piet at a Black Lives Matter rally in the Dutch capital in June could incite violence and is therefore a punishable offense, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said on Friday. The OM settled the case with Akwasi, agreeing that the rapper would publicly distance himself from the inflammatory words, in exchange for the case being conditionally dismissed.

During the Black Lives Matter rally on Amsterdam's Dam Square on June 1, Akwasi spoke about blackface, racism and also Zwarte Piet. He said: "The moment I see a Zwarte Piet, I will personally kick him in the face." According to the OM, 44 declarations were filed against Akwasi due to this statement.

In conjunction with the rest of Akwasi's speech, the OM concluded that this remark was inciting - it could incite others to assault a person dressed as Zwarte Piet, the OM said. The fact that Akwasi said that he would assault the blackface character personally doesn't detract from this, as "given the exemplary function he fulfills" others may be inspired to commit violence themselves, the OM said.

The Prosecutor met with Akwasi and his lawyer, during which Akwasi indicated that he was shocked by the reports and that he did not intend to incite violence in any way, the OM said. The OM made a settlement offer in which Akwasi publicly withdraws his words in exchange for the case against him being conditionally dismissed. Akwasi did so and the case is now conditionally dismissed. "If Akwasi commits another criminal offense within a year, he will have to answer in court not only for that new offense, but also for the statement on 1 June 2020," the OM said.

The OM also said that it is aware of the old tweets by Akwasi that surfaced last week. "Reports about this have now been received by the police. The declarations are still being assessed."

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