The Zaanstad Sinterklaas committee, the largest in the Zaanstreek, will not participate in the national Sinterklaas arrival in Zaandijk on November 17th. A statement by broadcaster NTR, the organizer of the national arrival, led the committee to the conclusion that no blackface Zwarte Pieten will be allowed to participate in the arrival for the first time. But according to a spokesperson for NTR, this is not the case at all.
The Sinterklaasjournaal will feature only "Chimney Pieten" with soot on their faces this year, broadcaster NTR said in a statement on its website. How black the Pieten's faces will be remains vague. The amount of soot on their faces depends on how often they've gone through the chimney, the broadcaster said.
In the statement NTR addressed a number of questions around Sinterklaas' national arrival in Zaanstad on November 17th, and his controversial helper Zwarte Piet. On the question how the Pieten will look in the popular kids' show, NTR said:
With the month of November, and the arrival of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, approaching, the Zwarte Piet discussion is also starting up again. The first demonstrations at the Sint's arrival in Zaanstad on November 17th were announced, though so far only from activists supporting the blackface figure of Zwarte Piet.
The VVD's newest parliamentarian Thierry Aartsen, who will replace Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert in the Tweede Kamer on Thursday, is facing criticism about comments he made on Twitter in the past. Despite the controversy, Aartsen can count on the support of faction leader Klaas Dikjhof. As far as he is concerned, Aartsen is "most welcome" in the VVD parliamentary faction, NU.nl reports.
A total of 34 Zwarte Piet supporters will be criminally prosecuted for blocking the A7 highway at Joure before Sinterklaas' national arrival in Dokkum last year, the Prosecutor announced. They blocked the highway to prevent anti-Zwarte Piet activists reaching Dokkum to demonstrate at the arrival party.
Some 18 suspects were identified during a criminal investigation into the unauthorized highway shutdown meant to stop protestors from marching against Zwarte Piet last November. Police notified the suspects that they are wanted for questioning, the public prosecutor's office announced on Monday.
Verene Shepherd, a professor at the University of the West Indies and a former UN expert on people of African descent, still gets hate mail from the Netherlands four years after she criticized blackface Sinterklaas character Zwarte Piet. At one point she received up to 80 emails per day, riddled with hateful and racist remarks, the Jamaican professor revealed while giving a speech at a human rights conference in Jamaica on Sunday, Afro Magazine reports.
Dutch party clothing retailer Feestkleding 365 decided to drop all signs of blackface from its Zwarte Piet costumes, the company announced in a press release on Tuesday. The decision was made based on racist comments the retailer received on an opinion poll about whether or not to keep the costume in its current form. Feestkleding 365 also decided to donate the revenue made by selling these costumes to charity.
Gert-Jaap van Ulzen, board member of the VVD in Leeuwarden, resigned from the party following posts he made on Twitter calling anti-Zwarte Piet activists "negro fascists". Faction secretary Joel Heiner confirmed to Omrp Fryslan that Van Ulzen decided to withdraw from the VVD Leeuwarden board after "good consultation" with the other board members.
The teachers at four out of five primary schools in the Netherlands do not talk about the color of Zwarte Piet and do not ask themselves whether appearance of the controversial character may be hurtful to some children, according a study by DUO Onderwijsonderzoek & Advies, ANP reports.
The Amsterdam city council meeting was suspended for a time on Thursday afternoon while three men dressed as blackface Zwarte Pieten, complete with gold rings in their ears and red lips, were removed from the public gallery. Officially they were removed because the blackface makeup made them unrecognizable and they thereby violated a ban on wearing face-covering clothing in public buildings, AD reports.
On Saturday there will be a demonstration against racism and Zwarte Piet in Dokkum. The police will escort the protesters to the Friesland town, to make sure their way isn't block as it was when they were heading to an approved protest at Sinterklaas' national arrival almost two weeks ago, NOS reports.
The demonstration on Saturday is an initiative of Zwarte Piet is Rascisme, Stop Blackface, Free Your Mind, Doorbraak and Progressive Groningen, according to the broadcaster. The protest is scheduled for between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
On Monday the court in Utrecht sentenced a man from Lelystad to 40 hours of community service, 20 of which conditionally suspended, for posting discriminatory comments on a Facebook post by activist group Kick Out Zwarte Piet, RTL Nieuws reports.
After the national arrival of Sinterklaas in Meppel in 2015, the man wrote under the Kick Out Zwarte Piet post: "Just let them work as slave again then they can't complain anymore it's what they want to work out lazy sweat nigger that's what you are born for", according to the broadcaster.
A primary school in the Utrecht district of Zuilen called the police after a group of activists protesting for the preservation of Zwarte Piet in his traditional blackface appearance, stormed into the school on Thursday, ANP reports.
Around 10 protesters dressed up as Zwarte Piet charged into the primary school De Cirkel's schoolyard and classrooms and started handing out perpernoten and stickers shortly before the end of the school day.
Dutch newspaper AD and a number of Dutch celebrities are calling for a 'Sinterklaas truce'. The newspaper wants to make a deal - no debating about the form of the Sinterklaas party or the appearance of Zwarte Piet as long as Sinterklaas is in the Netherlands - and a number of well known Dutch expressed similar sentiments in the newspaper.
The locks of the Sinterklaas home in Dordrecht were sabotaged by activists over night. A metallic substance and glue were found in the locks, making the doors difficult to open. Stickers reading 'Zwarte Piet is racism' were stuck on the building, NOS reports.
According to the VVV, the organization responsible for the Sinterklaas home, the damage is not too bad. All stickers were removed before the home opened to its public, which mostly consists of school children. The Sinterklaas house is a municipal building where Sinterklaas 'lives'.
Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations will arrange a meeting with mayors and local governments to discuss citizens' right to demonstrate and the considerations that should be taken into account when a demonstration is canceled, she said in response to parliamentary questions from DENK MP Tunahan Kuzu, AD reports
A last-minute demonstration ban implemented for the national Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum this past Saturday had to do with information that protesters planned to use heavy fireworks, Mayor Marga Waanders of Dongeradeel - which covers Dokkum - said in a statement. The statement did not say whether it was pro-Zwarte Piet or anti-Zwarte Piet protesters who had fireworks, AD reports.
"Based on this information, the triangle [police, Prosecutor and mayor] was advised to ban the demonstration, because the safety of all people could no longer be guaranteed", Waanders said.
Over 36 thousand euros was raised in under two days in an action launched to cover any possible fines imposed on people who blocked the A7 highway to stop three buses carrying Kick Out Zwarte Piet protesters from reaching Dokkum on Saturday.
People protesting for keeping Zwarte Piet in blackface makeup, also have to comply with the law, State Secretary Raymond Knops of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations said in WNL on Sunday. He was referring to a group of people blocking anti-Zwarte Piet protesters from reaching the Sinterklaas parade in Dokkum on Saturday, where they had permission to protest against racism.
"I understand the emotions on this subject, but I cannot approve of people stopping everything on a highway," Knops said. "Everyone must abide by the law, including these people."
Buses filled with Zwarte Piet protestors were stopped by a group of about 35 white people stationed on the A7 highway outside Heerenveen, Friesland on Saturday. The protesters were on their way to the official Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum about 50 kilometers away, where they had approval from city officials to march against the character.
Mayor Marga Waanders of Dongeradeel, the police and Public Prosecutor decided to put a stop to a call on Facebook for Friesland residents to try and stop anti-Zwarte Piet activists reaching Dokkum, where Sinterklaas will make his national arrival on Saturday. In an open letter, the Mayor called on everyone coming to see Sinterklaas' arrival to respect each other's opinions.
Dokkum is getting ready for Sinterklaas' national arrival on Saturday, including putting up decorations and preparing for an anti-Zwarte Piet protest. The municipality of Dongeradeel, which includes Dokkum, gave Kick Out Zwarte Piet permission to protest, but is still working out the exact conditions and arrangements, a spokesperson said to Het Parool.
Kick Out Zwarte Piet announced their protest on Facebook. The protest will be preceded by a "March for Civilization", according to the group.
Blackface Zwarte Piet will disappear from Rotterdam's Sinterklaas celebrations. Snic, the organization of the Sinterklaas Parade in the city, discussed the controversial character and how to modernize the children's party with Platform Rutu, which represents various African communities in Rotterdam. They decided to remove any reference to black or other possibly offensive stereotypes, including the word 'Zwarte' from Piet's name, RTV Rijnmond reports.