The 34 people who blocked the A7 motorway last year to prevent anti-Zwarte Piet protestors from reaching Dokkum will appear in court next week.
Translation by Traci White
According to the Public Prosecutor, the hearings will be held over the course of four days from the 8th through the 12th of October. Extra space has been reserved in anticipation of above average public and media interest in the case.
The group of 34 people are accused of using vehicles to block the A7 motorway near Joure on the day of Sinterklaas’ national arrival, which was held in the Frisian city of Dokkum. The blockade prevented three buses carrying anti-Zwarte Piet protestors from reaching the city where they planned to protest the continued depiction of Sinterklaas’ helper, Zwarte Piet, in black face.
Right to protest
The blockade caused a massive traffic jam, and the protestors eventually turned back after the mayor of Dokkum called off the protests. The Public Prosecution says that the blockade created a dangerous situation for drivers on the road, and the suspects are accused of repressing the right to peaceful demonstration.
The arrival of Sinterklaas signifies the return of the ongoing Zwarte Piet discussion each year: people who oppose the depiction of Zwarte Piet point out that using stereotypical blackface make up is a racist caricature, and others defend the character by claiming that Zwarte Piet is an innocent and friendly helper based on Dutch folklore.