Zwarte Piet is racism.

Zwarte Piet is racism.

Last year Doorbraak activist Jennifer van Leijen initiated a campaign to stop the Dutch government from subsidizing blackface (Zwarte Piet or Black Pete) on children’s television. Almost 10.000 people already signed. Van Leijen regularly writes updates. Here is number 10 (also read numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6/7, 8 and 9).

In this weekend, and next weekend, there will be blackface parades throughout the Netherlands, but the national parade, the main one, was to be yesterday in a small Dutch city called Dokkum. The Dutch government, national and local, not only subsidise this national blackface extravaganza, they also employ the police to prevent peaceful anti-racist demonstrators from protesting against this racist imagery promoted to children.

Prime minister Mark Rutte described peaceful protesters as “angry people” which children shouldn’t be confronted with. Mark Rutte approves of blackface. He said, during the Nuclear Security Summit, that Antillian people were lucky because they looked like the blackface characters all the time, whilst he had to paint his face and had the inconvenience of removing the facepaint! Afterwards, he was reported to have apologised to the prime minister of Curaçao, an Antillian island, after islanders were said to have become incensed by his racist remarks.

The Dutch government have a history of preventing protest by refusing protesters access to the right place at the right moment. This happened today too: the Mayor of Dokkum said that it was for the safety of the protestors, but the actions of the police speak otherwise.

A group of far right (fascist) youth stopped traffic on the motorway. They did this by driving in front of and alongside the coaches and stopping. There were groups of these facist youth in various vehicles. The motorbike that stopped in front of the coach did so suddenly. It was very dangerous, and although the coach driver stopped on time, the traffic behind were not so lucky and there were collisions.

The fascist youths aggressively approached the coaches, a man who filmed them was attacked, a coach was damaged and one fascist bared his bottom. The police didn’t note the identities or the driving licences of the fascist youth who had caused this, and let them go.

The police then forced us, the anti-racists, to drive back to Amsterdam, and delayed the drive back so that we would be unable to demonstrate elsewhere where blackface parades were.

The media reported a festive day, and made sure that the message was that blackface was present and wanted. The fact that forbidding people from protesting is a human right’s violation was omitted by the reports. Children are the victims of this government subsidised racism. This has got to stop.

Jennifer van Leijen

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