Tags: black pete | protests | arrests | dutch | festival

'Black Pete' Protests at Dutch Festival Result in 90 Arrests

Image: 'Black Pete' Protests at Dutch Festival Result in 90 Arrests
People gather during a demonstration against the tradition of 'Zwarte Piet' or 'Black Pete' the black-faced companion of Saint Nicholas in Amsterdam, on November 16, 2014. (Evert Elzinga/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 17 Nov 2014 08:47 AM

Protests for and against "Black Pete" – the controversial sidekick of the Dutch Saint Nicholas – resulted in the arrests of 90 people in the central Dutch city of Gouda at the start of a traditional gift-giving festival.

"Sixty people were arrested for demonstrating in unauthorised areas, and 30 for disturbing the peace," during the children-oriented procession attended by thousands and broadcast live on national television, police spokeswoman Yvette Verboon told AFP.

"Arrests were made on both sides," Verboon said amid an increasingly acrimonious and racially-charged debate in the Netherlands.

State broadcaster NOS showed images of minor scuffles breaking out on the main square, where Saint Nicholas appeared on a balcony, with protesters unfurling a large banner reading "Black Pete Racism".

Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the arrests "deeply, deeply sad".

"Everyone can talk about Black Pete's color but you can't disturb a children's party like that," he told NOS.

Gouda mayor Milo Schoenmaker said the atmosphere had been "vicious".

"It's a pity that adults from outside the city felt the need to demonstrate among the children at the end of the procession," national news agency ANP quoted Schoenmaker as saying.

Public prosecutor spokesman Wouter Bos said all those held for demonstrating in the wrong place were anti-Black Pete protesters and they would be fined 220 euros ($275) each.

The fate of those arrested for public disorder offences "will be decided later," he said.

The debate around Black Pete, called Zwarte Piet in Dutch, has divided the Netherlands.

Many say that Pete – traditionally dressed in a gaudy medieval costume with a blackened face, red lips and an afro wig – is a racist stereotype dating from the colonial era.

Black Pete's defenders say he is black from coming down the chimney and refuse to admit there might be anything racist about the historic character.

This year Saint Nicholas and dozens of Petes arrived in Gouda aboard a gift-filled boat from Spain in a national event looked forward to by children.

For the first time, the mayor introduced other colored Petes, angering many.

They include "Cheese Petes" with yellow faces, "Stroopwafel Petes" with striped, light brown faces resembling the traditional Dutch syrup biscuit of the same name and a white-faced "Clown Pete".

Nevertheless, protesters attended Sunday's annual procession wearing T-shirts reading "Black Pete Colonial Symbol" or "Black Pete Doesn't Fit".

"Some black kids feel hurt at this time of year," said a man at the procession who gave his name as Knoledge.

"It's a real shame that in a civilized country, in 2014, you still have to defend equality," he told AFP.

"If we were seen as equals, Black Pete would have been changed a long time ago so that this celebration is for all Dutch people," he said.

Fellow Dutchman Marco said: "This is how I celebrate, how my grandmother and grandfather and parents celebrated, and I don't think it's racist."

"Police asked protesters to leave (the main square) and go to the designated place near the train station," said Gouda municipality spokeswoman Monique Neve.

"They didn't obey and police took the necessary measures," she said.

At a press conference after the procession, the man playing the role of Saint Nicholas was asked if he had followed the Black Pete debate.

"It will all work itself out," he said. "Nobody should be worried."

© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 
1Like our page
2Share
TheWire
Protests for and against "Black Pete" – the controversial sidekick of the Dutch Saint Nicholas – resulted in the arrests of 90 people in the central Dutch city of Gouda at the start of a traditional gift-giving festival.
black pete, protests, arrests, dutch, festival
554
2014-47-17
Monday, 17 Nov 2014 08:47 AM
Newsmax Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved