In an effort to show that Friesland is a welcoming and inclusive province, a demonstration will be held next week in Leeuwarden.
The title of demonstration, “F)rede fan Fryslân”, means peace and reason for Friesland. The demonstration will be held in Leeuwarden Saturday, the 20thof October at 3:30 p.m. The exact programme and location are not yet clear, but it will likely be held at the Goveneursplein in the centre of Leeuwarden.
The six men and women organising the event are hoping to book musical acts and speakers. As of Sunday, according to the official Facebook event page, 66 people said they are going and 376 people are interested in attending.
Oeds Westerhof, one of the event organisers, told the Leeuwarden Courant that he was tired of seeing the Frisian flag being used as a symbol of exclusion during the trial of 34 men and women over the past week. “It’s time to make a statement: what do you stand for? What are your values? There are so many of us out there who believe that everyone matters.”
Beer and banners
The demonstration is in direct response to the trial of 34 Frisian men and women who blocked the A7 motorway last year, preventing protestors from reaching the city of Dokkum and creating a massive traffic jam. The blockade participants forced several buses of protestors from the Randstad who oppose the blackface caricature of Zwarte Piet to stop and eventually turn back.
On Friday, the Public Prosecutor called for sentences of community service for most participants in the blockade, jail time for one defendant who was previously offended of other charges and a suspended jail sentence for blockade organiser Jenny Douwes. A judge will decide what sentence the suspects will ultimately receive in the coming weeks.
Roughly 100 men and women waited outside the courtroom on Friday afternoon after the weeklong hearing, waving the Frisian flag and banners featuring Zwarte Piet and singing to show their support for the defendants. The group then gathered on the Wilhelminaplein, some drinking beer and some partially standing in the way of passing bus and bike traffic.
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Outside of the courthouse in Leeuwarden on Friday afternoon, hundreds of supporters and a handful of opponents of the 34 so-called “blokeerfriezen” waited for the defendants to leave the building. After they left the courthouse following a week of hearings, the group paraded to the steps of the old courthouse on the Wilhelminaplein, singing and drinking. The men and women are accused of preventing anti-Zwarte Piet protestors from their right to peaceful demonstration by blocking the A7 motorway last year on the day of Sinterklaas’s nationally televised arrival in Dokkum. The buses had to brake abruptly, causing damage and minor injuries and creating a dangerous traffic jam. The defendants are likely to receive community services sentences, and they will be sentenced in the coming weeks. #leeuward #friesland #fryslan #protest #zwartepiet #blockade