Anti-Zwarte Piet protests to take place in 12 Dutch municipalities

Anti-Zwarte Piet protests to take place in 12 Dutch municipalities

Anti-Zwarte Piet group Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) is planning on protesting Sinterklaas’ black-faced helpers during Sinterklaas arrival events in mid-November in 12 different Dutch municipalities. The group feels that the traditional form of Zwarte Piet (Black Piet) is a racist caricature.

Protests across the Netherlands

The group is planning protests in places where either no changes are being made towards a Sinterklaas celebration without Black Piet or the changes are unclear, according to the head of the group Jerry Afriyie. As such, the KOZP group will be protesting at Sinterklaas arrival events in Hoorn, Alkmaar, Heerhugowaard, Leeuwarden, Eindhoven, Groningen, The Hague, Den Bosch, Dordrecht, Almere, Nijmegen and Willemstad (Curaçao).

Last year, KOZP protests lead to fierce counter-reactions, with pro-Zwarte Piet advocates trying to engage in a confrontation in The Hague, Groningen, Leeuwarden, Rotterdam and Hilversum. In Eindhoven, 14 pro-Zwarte Piet protesters were sentenced to community service after they threw eggs, pepernoten and cans of beer at KOZP and kicked a police agent. Despite the backlash, the group is not going to avoid these places: “Violence should not deter us from doing the right thing”, Afriyie said.

A new campaign

In addition to their programme of protests, KOZP has announced the launch of a new campaign: #2020ZwartePietVrij (2020 Black Piet free). With this, the group wants to protest outside of Sinterklaas season and focus on mayors, retailers and arrival committees who support the traditional black-faced version of Zwarte Piet.

Recent pro-Zwarte Piet protest

Recently, the municipality of Deventer announced that at least a third of the Piets at the coming arrival event have to be sooty Piets, so with soot marks on their faces instead of full black makeup. Should this not be the case, the event would not be subsidised. However, this plan was met with so much dissent that the municipality withdrew it. Around 80 people and 15 Black Piets protested the sooty Piet rules at the city hall, calling it blackmail, as the subsidy was conditional, based on the proportion of sooty Piets in the event.

The municipality has now made alternative agreements, regarding the Piets, with the Sinterklaas arrival organisation. However, neither party will disclose what the new plans entail. The group protesting, Zonder Zwarte Piet geen Sinterklaas (Without Black Piet no Sinterklaas), wants Black Piet to stay fully black in Deventer.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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