While on their way to a peaceful protest against the racist caricature of Black Pete, the buses of Kick Out Zwarte Piet were blocked on the road by a group of about 30 aggressive men and women with cars, motorcycles and trucks. The blockade lasted about 45 minutes, during which the police present at the scene were in no visible hurry to dismantle it. The police also did not help the anti-Black Pete protesters continue their journey. Eventually, local authorities rescinded the right to protest via emergency order. The peaceful protest was made impossible partly by the police.
After the blockade was lifted the police promised to accompany the group to Dokkum. This happened with an escort of police motorcycles and mobile unit (ME) officers. It became clear along the way that the buses were not being lead to Dokkum, but to the west of Friesland. Only in Harlingen, at least 45 minutes after the decision, it was reported that the protest in Dokkum had been prohibited by order of the mayor. The buses were then escorted back to Amsterdam and Rotterdam via the Afsluitdijk.
“It has become more than clear that our right to protest and our freedom of speech are being violated,” says Kick Out Zwarte Piet. Despite prior consultation with the mayor, police, and other authorities, and despite the fact that all instructions from the police were followed, an emergency order was instituted to ban the protest for an inclusive Sinterklaas celebration. The protesters were summoned to return home under police escort, while the legal basis for that remained unclear.
Last year, during the arrival parade of Sinterklaas in Rotterdam, the police had arranged sufficient capacity to stop the peaceful protest in advance, and the protesters were arrested immediately, some violently and even before reaching the parade. This year the police treated the racist, aggressive, and unlawful actions of rioters very differently. The blockade was lifted only after 45 minutes. Moreover, these aggressors were not arrested or stopped in order to protect the protesters, but were allowed to leave and go their way.
Finally, several inaccuracies have been communicated by the police. Cars behind the buses in the traffic jam were told that the blockade was caused by the anti-black-pete activists, according to a motorist. The blockade would not have focused on the action group, but on everyone in the traffic jam, and therefore the police did not have to communicate with the protesters, according to a police officer on the spot. Additionally, the police officer who announced to the buses that they were not allowed to go to Dokkum, gave as reason that the protesters were now “too late for the protest”, even though this was caused by the slow action of the police themselves. In the meantime, protesters who had travelled to Dokkum on their own and arrived at the agreed upon place and time were also stopped.
Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) is angry and disappointed that this peaceful protest for an inclusive Sinterklaas celebration and a racism-free Netherlands could not take place. They are currently considering follow-up steps and are in consultation with a lawyer.
Update in English from Anousha Nzume
We’re still waiting. The police is not stopping the blockade. Why not? https://t.co/0hZERQQXvW
— Anousha Nzume (@anoushanzume) 18 november 2017