Anti-blackface demonstrators pelted with fireworks, eggs

The police keep pro-blackface campaigners at bay. Photo: Jeffrey Groeneweg ANP

The police were forced to intervene when anti-blackface Piet demonstrators were pelted with fireworks, eggs and tomatoes by pro-blackface campaigners during the Sinterklaas parade in the Zuid Holland town of De Lier.

In total, nine pro-Zwarte Piet backers were arrested, four of whom were picked up early in the morning for vandalising surveillance cameras, police said. Three others had “offensive weapons” in their car.

Anti-blackface campaigners from the Kick Out Zwarte Piet movement opted to demonstrate in De Lier because the village still has traditional Piets in its Sinterklaas procession. 

According to the town council, a car park on the edge of the centre was full of vehicles with bales of hay, manure tanks and containers that “could have been used” in a counter protest. “A large group of public order offenders” had set out to disrupt the demonstration, police said.

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KOZP chairman Jerry Afriyie told the AD the parade should have been cancelled because of the violence, and that the demonstrators felt extremely unsafe.

“We had everything thrown at us: eggs, apples, full cans. There were fireworks everywhere,” he said. “The police did everything they could to protect us and that worked well.”

“But we want a Sinterklaas party which is inclusive and safe for everyone, and that is not the case at the moment.” One demonstrator had received a cut to the face, Afriyie said.

Meanwhile, the annual procession in the Overijssel village of Enter has been cancelled because the mayor feared trouble between blackface Piet supporters and anti-racism campaigners.

The parade, featuring Piets in full blackface, had been scheduled for November 25.

In Rijswijk, local mayor Huri Sahin refused to give a licence to an alternative Sinterklaas parade featuring blackface Piets because “public order could not be guaranteed”.

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