SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Campaigners who blocked the A7 motorway with cars to stop anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators reaching last year’s Sinterklaas procession in Friesland, should be given community service sentences of up to 240 hours, the public prosecution service said on Friday.
In total, 34 people were charged with blocking the motorway and stopping a legal demonstration. One, Jenny Douwes who originally called for the demonstration on Facebook, has also been charged with sedition.
She should be given 240 hours community service and a three-month suspended sentence, the prosecutor said. The suspects have been appearing in court in groups of three or four since Monday to hear the evidence against them.
No-one has admitted responsibility for the action and no-one has shown remorse, which may impact on the final sentences, according to the AD’s analysis.
The Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) parade has been the focus of demonstrations in recent years against his companion Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete, who is perceived in some quarters as a racist caricature.
‘Everyone has rights,’ the public prosecutor said, as he went through the charge sheet. ‘The key question is, what do you do about people you don’t agree with? And that is not what the suspects have done.’
‘This is not about Zwarte Piet but about the behaviour of people behind the blockade,’ he said. ‘Both their aim – to stop people demonstrating – and the means they used – blocking a motorway – are criminal offences.’ The court will publish its verdicts in November. (DutchNews)