Friday 14 August 2020

Pro-Piet campaigners have sentences for blocking motorway reduced

Sinterklaas and traditional Piets in the Dutch village of De Rijp. Photo:

Fifteen people who stopped three busses carrying anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators heading for the Frisian town of Dokkum two years ago have been sentenced to community service terms of 90 hours by appeal court judges.

Jenny Douwes, considered to the motorway blockade ringleader, who had been given 240 hours plus a month’s suspended prison term, has had her sentence cut to 90 hours as well.

In total, 34 people were charged and found guilty of blocking the A7 motorway and stopping a legal demonstration by a lower court in 2018.

The annual Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) parades have been the focus of demonstrations  against his companion Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete, who is widely considered to be a racist caricature.

This year the Kick Out Zwarte Piet campaign has said it will demonstrate against the presence of Piets in blackface in 12 local authority areas including Hoorn, Alkmaar, The Hague, Groningen and Willemstad on the Caribbean island of Curacao.

Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht have all ditched black-face Piets and have sooty-faced Piets instead.

The national Sinterklaas procession in November will only include Piets with sooty faces this year for the first time, public broadcaster NTR, which organises the event, said in September.  The Sinterklaas festivities kick off in Apeldoorn on November 16.


Meanwhile, a group of around 100 people, including 15 in blackface make-up, took part in a pro-traditional Piet demonstration in Deventer on Wednesday evening.

The local council has already withdrawn plans to mix traditional and sooty Piets in the annual parade after protests but has not yet announced the alternative.

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