Dutch police arrest 200 protesters against racist “Black Pete” festival

A massive 198 people were arrested in Rotterdam on Saturday for wanting to protest against racist character Zwarte Piet. Among them were GroenLinks councilor Simion Blom, lawyer Michiel Pestman and activist Jerry Afriyie.
According to newspaper AD, the people arrested belong to action group Kick Out Zwarte Piet. The police stopped the bus carrying the protesters to Sinterklaas’ national arrival in Maassluis. A spokesperson for the group told the newspaper that the police told them they could not go to Maassluis, so the group decided to stay in Rotterdam and make a statement on Willemsplein, where many families and children gathered to wait for Sinterklaas.
Many Rotterdam police officers were deployed to Maassluis to help with security surrounding Sinterklaas’ national arrival. This meant that there were not enough police officers available to facilitate demonstrations in any other municipality in the Rotterdam-Rijnmond region, including in Rotterdam itself, according to the Volkskrant.
When the Kick Out Zwarte Piet group gathered on Willemsplein, the police therefore decided to arrest them. According to the police, many protesters resisted arrest and the police had to use violence. Simion Blom tweeted from the police station in Maassluis: “Group was calmly walking without any form of protest. Surrounded and arrested. For what? A demonstration that did not exist?”
Most of the protesters were released from custody by Saturday night. Only one man remained in custody. He is suspected of assault for trying to push someone in front of an oncoming car. According to the police, the victim escaped unharmed.

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