Campaigners opposed to the use of blackface in the annual Sinterklaas celebrations can go ahead and demonstrate during Saturday’s parade in The Hague, councillors have agreed.
The Hague is the only one of the four big cities to continue to include blackface Piets in its parade, although there are plans to change that next year.
Campaign group Kick Out Zwarte Piet had asked councillors for permission to stage a demonstration after the city’s biggest political party called for a ban. Acting mayor Johan Remkes said he saw no reason to ban the protest.
On Friday, pro blackface Piet activists in The Hague attacked a building where KOZP members were meeting, smashing windows and car windscreens. Five people were arrested, one of whom remains in custody.
KOZP spokesman Jerry Afriyie has criticised Remkes for not denouncing the attack. ‘You should have condemned this, and we have not noticed you doing so,’ he said during the council meeting.
‘The mayor wants to know exactly what happened before commenting,’ Remkes said.
The Sinterklaas season kicks off on Saturday when the ‘arrival’ of St Nicholas takes place in Apeldoorn and is shown live on television. Apeldoorn too will feature only sooty-faced Piets in its parade, although pro-blackface demonstrators have pledged to hold their own protest.
This year anti-blackface demonstrators will protest in Alkmaar, Curaçao, Den Bosch , Dordrecht, Eindhoven, Groningen, Hoorn, Leeuwarden and Nijmegen as well as The Hague.
‘Not everyone feels safe to demonstrate because of the aggressiveness of the pro-Piets,’ the campaign group said. ‘It is understandable, but that is what the pro-Piets want. But KOZP has good contacts with local mayors and the police, and will also have its own security.’
Last year pro-blackface Piets attacked anti-Piet demonstrators at a number of locations and dozens were arrested.
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