The police in Staphorst, Overijssel, had to intervene on Saturday afternoon in the event of disturbances surrounding the arrival of Sinterklaas. A protest of Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) was announced in Staphorst. The protesters were met by an aggressive mob, causing the police and ME were deployed. The Township subsequently canceled the KOZP demonstration at the request of the police, because “safety could not be guaranteed for both visitors and demonstrators”.

    The municipality of Staphorst had cleared a section for the protest group KOZP at the arrival of Sinterklaas where the pre-approved demonstration could take place. But before the demonstrators could arrive in the village, they were met at the exit of the A28 by a large group of counter-demonstrators. The regional broadcaster RTV East talks about hundreds of people, some of whom had dressed up as Zwarte Piet with a face painted black. This counter-protest was not announced.

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    Fireworks and eggs

    Images from RTV Oost show how the pro-Black Pete demonstrators pelt cars, which contained KOZP activists, with eggs and fireworks. “Get out,” “What are you doing here,” and “This is a children’s party,” some rioters shouted. A tire would also have been punctured and a window smashed. The police confirm NRC that a “significantly large group” was present at the highway exit.

    Because the police had to intervene there, not enough officers were available to attend the planned protest in Staphorst. The municipality was therefore forced to ban the KOZP demonstration, according to a police spokesperson. Mayor Jan ten Kate van Staphorst announced a emergency order off, while the entry into the village center was already underway. This meant that no demonstrators were allowed to enter Staphorst. KOZP was then reversed.

    No arrests have been made and no injuries have been reported. Several criminal offenses have been committed, the police said in a statement declaration later on the day. “There have been reports of threats, destruction of a car and theft of goods from a car.” The police have started an investigation into whether people can be linked to the commission of the criminal offenses and are looking at camera images and calling witnesses.

    Steps against demonstration ban

    “KOZP speaks of a shame that the fundamental right to freedom of expression and demonstration is again taken away by the violence of pro-Piets,” the action group writes on social media. Foreman Jerry Afriyie speaks of “Dokkum 2.0”, referring to when KOZP activists were stopped on the A7 on their way to the national Sinterklaas arrival in 2017. Afriyie tells ANP news agency that the group is considering possible steps against the demonstration ban.

    The police regret that the demonstration had to be banned. “The right to demonstrate is a great asset in the Netherlands,” the statement said.

    Anti-Black Pete demonstrators of the action group Zaankanters against Racism were also attacked at the entry into Zaandam on Saturday. The police have arrested two people there who threw eggs at the demonstrators, ANP reports.

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