Advocacy groups worried after Neo-Nazi & racist statements appear on Rotterdam bridge
The messages linked to Neo-Nazi groups and other white supremacists, which were projected on the side of the Erasmus Bridge during the Rotterdam New Year's celebration, can have a deep negative impact on residents of the second largest city in the Netherlands, said Radar, a group which promotes inclusivity in the country.
Several controversial statements were shown on the bridge, including some which ended up being broadcast during RTL 4's coverage of the event. The statements included "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.” The statement is known as “14 Words,” and was popularized by comments made by American neo-Nazi David Lane, who died in prison in 2007.
Other statements shown on the bridge included, “Vrolijk Blank 2023 - Happy White 2023,” and “Zwarte Piet deed niets verkeerd,” which translates to “Zwarte Piet did nothing wrong,” a reference to the winter holiday character often portrayed by a white actor in blackface makeup. "White Lives Matter" was also projected on the bridge, a saying first promoted by a white supremacist group in Texas in response to the black Lives Matter movement.
"The action can lead to feelings of insecurity for many Rotterdam residents," Radar said. "'White lives matter' or 'Zwarte Piet did nothing wrong' are not neutral statements but play down discrimination and racism in society. Instead of listening to people who experience racism, empathizing with them and reflecting on your own position, you avoid dialogue and ignore the fact that racism exists."
The organization pointed out, "All lives matter, but Black people and people of color are more likely to be disadvantaged or victimized – for example, by police brutality. The Black Lives Matter message therefore emphasizes that black lives also matter."
On New Year's Day, police said they were still investigating the incident. “As we now estimate, the images were projected from a boat. The images move quite a bit. It is rather sloppy," a spokesperson said at the time.
Alderman Ronald Buijt, who is also the deputy mayor of the city, said to RTL Nieuws, “I found the slogans projected on the bridge tonight to be rude and polarizing. These guys don’t deserve attention even for a second. Rotterdam is one city, a city where everyone is equal.”