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, have been sentenced to community service of between 80 and 240 hours and suspended jail terms of one month.
In total, 34 people were charged and found guilty of blocking the motorway and stopping a legal demonstration. Jenny Douwes, who originally called for the demonstration on Facebook and has become a de facto figurehead for the protestors, was also found guilty of incitement.
She received the longest sentence of 240 hours of community service plus a one month suspended jail term. The court ruled that the pro-Piet activists knew exactly what they were doing when they created a dangerous traffic situation.
Nor could the blockade be seen as a demonstration, the court said. ‘Limits to the right to demonstrate can only be imposed if there are concrete threats to public order,’ the court said.
‘The fear this may happen is not enough. It was not up to the ‘blockade Frisians’ to decide if Kick Out Zwarte Piet had the right to demonstrate.’ Demonstrations 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.
This year the Kick Out Zwarte Piet campaign has said it will not demonstrate in Zaandijk, where the three weeks of Sinterklaas festivities are due to kick off on November 17.
Instead, the organisation has applied for licences to hold demonstrations at 18 other locations including Dokkum, which it was unable to reach last year because of the motorway blockade. (DutchNews)