Parents and children attending the official arrival of Sinterklaas in Maassluis on Saturday had to go through formal security checks before they reach the waterfront where the steamboat bringing the ‘Saint’ will dock.
The town’s mayor Edo Haan had decided to beef up security to make sure pro and anti Zwarte Piet demonstrators don’t slip through into the area where families can watch the procession. Hundreds of police officers will also be present.
In previous years, dozens of anti-Piet demonstrators were arrested at the official arrival ceremony in Gouda because of fears there would be clashes with pro-Piet supporters.
Around one hundred anti-Piet protesters have been arrested in near-by Rotterdam for not ‘registering their intent to protest after a ban was imposed by local authorities. On their way from Maassluis, where they were denied access to the city, to Rotterdam, their bus was stopped before they were rounded up and arrested.
There are also reports of clashes with pro-piet protesters in other parts of the city.
— Judith (@JuL1ta) November 12, 2016
The extreme right-wing Nederlandse VolksUnie did register its plans to demonstrate in favour of Zwarte Piet and have been given permission to stand next to the route where the procession will take place.
Anti-Piet demonstrators said they were not planning a demonstration but will take part in a ‘peaceful protest’.
“It is not a demonstration, we just want to express our opinions,” a spokesman for the Kick Out Zwarte Piet collective said.
“We have already agreed not to react to any provocation from the NVU.’ Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher said described the need for security as ‘scandalous.”
“Whether you are for or against Zwarte Piet, there is no excuse to hurl abuse at others or worse,” he said.
At the heavily guarded Sinterklaasintocht in Maassluis, the police arrested one man, who had hidden a machete in one of the bags he carried, according to false reports.
Initially bystanders reported that it was an ax, but police announced that it is a “big machete”.
The arrested person was a non-Dutch speaking man, who was not part of a protest group. He wore ‘suspicious’ clothing and had two bags with him. Agents reported on RTL News that they found the man suspiciously walking alone near the children’s party. He was picked up after a search.
Police reported the arrested man turned out to be innocent of any wrongdoing. The Polish worker was on his way to a job in the neighborhood carrying around his work tools.
In total 200 people were arrested today, according to an official statement of the Rotterdam police. By banning the right to protest the authorities managed to prevent injuries.
The right to protest however, a human right and civil right in the Netherlands, has taken a huge blow. All because of a made-up childrens party with some racist associations. The ‘Orange Kingdom’, known for its tolerance and liberties is currently looking in a mirror with closed eyes and will have to face up to some serious soul searching in years to come its seems.