Suspects in hate speech laser projections get community service for Breda assault
Three members of the extremist group White Lives Matter (WLM) were sentenced to community service and suspended jail time for hate speech crimes and assault. Two of the three are also suspected of being part of the scheme where a laser projector was used to show racist and discriminatory text on the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam on New Year’s Eve and on buildings in Eindhoven, a case which has yet to be heard.
The three suspects convicted on Friday are Daniel S., 34, Albert Jan P., 28, and John A., who is 24. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) said that the three showed up in Breda in October 2021 to place stickers all over public locations with text including, “Stop white replacement,” in English, and “National socialism, we are back,” in Dutch. They also used stickers that directed people to visit the White Lives Matter channel on chat service Telegram.
Two of them “distributed these stickers and pasted them on lampposts in the city. When a passer-by ripped off a sticker from the lamppost and tore it up, he and his girlfriend were called ‘kankernegers’ by one of the suspects,” the court said on Friday. The victim “was then punched in the face by another suspect with a clenched fist.” Kankernegers roughly translates as a strong slur combining the word for “cancer” and a racial epithet.
“The court is of the opinion that the statements on the stickers are offensive to people with a dark skin color and/or people of a certain ethnic origin,” the court said. The reference to national socialism is strictly meant as a reference to a time when “non-Aryan races were considered and treated as inferior,” and to bring back that era. The other slogan “can only be understood as meaning that white people are being replaced by non-white people and that the expansion of non-white people must stop.”
The court acknowledged that the Black Lives Matter movement is to encourage the equal treatment of people of color in a diverse society. On the other hand, White Lives Matter “believes that the lives of white people are worth more, and matter more, than the lives of dark-skinned people, and strive for white supremacy,” the court stated.
All three suspects had claimed freedom of speech as part of their defense against the hate speech accusations. “Freedom of expression is a great asset that occupies a fundamental place in our democratic society. It is also important to be able to speak out on matters about which a public debate can be held,” the court said in its verdict.
“But according to the court, this right is not unlimited. In this case, the suspects have crossed the line of what is permissible with their actions.”
Daniel S. pleaded guilty to assault, and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service, and a 30-day prison sentence of which 29 days were suspended. He was ordered to pay 250 euros to the victim. The OM had demanded a sentence of 120 hours of community service, but no jail time.
Albert Jan P. was sentenced to 70 hours of community service, and must pay 250 euros to the two victims who were insulted by the the racial epithet. John A. was sentenced to 36 hours of community service, and a prison sentence of 30 days. Like Daniel S., 29 days of his sentence were suspended. The OM had demanded that P. and A. serve 70 and 50 hours, respectively.