Still no arrests for violence against Kick Out Zwarte Piet protestors
The police have not yet arrested anyone over threats and acts of violence carried out against demonstrators from the anti-racism activist group Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP). The incidents happened ahead of the Sinterklaas arrival party in Staphorst last Saturday. The police said Monday that the criminal investigation was quickly progressing.
The police said they regretted the course of events and are also investigating their own decisions and inactivity that day. "We deeply regret the fact that, despite the preparations, we were not able to prevent serious threats and disturbances. That is why we are currently looking at how the police prepared and how we acted on the day itself. The right to demonstrate is a fundamental right. The fact that the disturbances made the situation so unsafe that the demonstration had to be canceled is serious," police said in a statement on Monday.
On Saturday there was a confrontation between KOZP and people in blackface who tried to prevent the activists from traveling to Staphorst as they arranged in advance. "The rioters used a lot of violence during the riots at the A28 exit. Various criminal offenses were committed, such as destroying other people's property, theft of goods and, among other things, a threat was reported. Also preventing a permitted demonstration is a criminal offense," the police said.
Amnesty International, which was present as an observer at the event, filed a criminal report about the threats and vandalism at the Sinterklaas arrival party. The car containing the observers was attacked by the anti-KOZP dissidents. The human rights organization called for a thorough evaluation of actions by the government and authorities in Staphorst.
KOZP said it was "angry and disappointed" about the attitude of the municipality of Staphorst. People who have been attacked by the rioters also reported it, and KOZP itself was also considering filing a report with the police. The organization echoed Amnesty International’s appeal for an independent investigation into the actions of the municipality and the police.
"When demonstrating is made impossible, a mayor must stand up for the rights of the demonstrators. We are waiting for the day when, if safety cannot be guaranteed, a mayor cancels a [Sinterklaas arrival] event instead of a demonstration," wrote KOZP leader Jerry Afriyie in a statement.
Reporting by ANP