Four face prosecution for attacking anti-blackface demonstrators

June 14, 2023  –Four men who were involved in stopping anti-blackface protestors from reaching a demonstration in the Bible belt village of Staphorst last November will face criminal charges, the public prosecution department said on Wednesday.

The four will be prosecuted for using violence against people and property on the A28, the department said in a statement. One of the men is 39 and from Twenter and, the other three are in their 20s and from Staphorst itself. 

Riot police were drafted in after a mob of pro-blackface locals blocked roads to try to stop the demonstrators from reaching the village, where the annual Sinterklaas procession was due to be held.

Although blackface Piets have largely disappeared from bigger Dutch towns and cities, they are still a feature of the Sinterklaas celebrations in more rural areas.

The group, carrying blazing torches, threw oil at one of the cars carrying supporters of the Kick Out Zwarte Piet movement and attacked other vehicles. Staphorst’s mayor cancelled the demonstration permit because of the problems.

Amnesty International’s Gerbrig Klos, one of three people in a car that was attacked, said at the time she had felt extremely threatened by the pro-blackface group.

 ‘We were surrounded and attacked by dozens of people,’ she told the AD last year. ‘They were out to frighten us and stop us reaching the village. They kicked the car, threw eggs and an oily substance at us. My car has dents, the number plate and windscreen wipers have been ripped off and the back tyres were let down.’

Both KOZP and Amnesty International Nederland have welcomed the pending prosecutions. KOZP’s Jerry Affryie told broadcaster NOS he expected more prosecutions will follow because his group had handed in footage of eight men involved in the attacks. 

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