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Zwarte Piet meets an American visitor, circa 1950. Wikipedia

Dutch pro-Piet campaigners have their sentences reduced

Possibly fearing a backlash, Pro-Piet campaigners have had their sentences reduced for blocking a Dutch highway.

Published: November 2, 2019, 8:37 am

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    Fifteen people who stopped three busses carrying anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators heading for the Frisian town of Dokkum two years ago have been sentenced to community service terms of 90 hours by appeal court judges.

    Jenny Douwes, considered to the instigator of the highway blockade, and who had initially been given 240 hours plus a month’s suspended prison term by a lower court in 2018, has had her sentence cut to 90 hours as well.

    In total, 34 people were charged and found guilty of blocking the A7 highway and stopping a legal demonstration.

    The annual Sinterklaas parades have been the focus of demonstrations against his companion Zwarte Piet, who is considered by leftists to be a “racist caricature”.

    This year the Kick Out Zwarte Piet campaign has said it will demonstrate against the presence of Piets in blackface in 12 local authority areas including Hoorn, Alkmaar, The Hague, Groningen and Willemstad on the Caribbean island of Curacao.

    Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht have all banned black-face Piets but have allowed sooty-faced Piets instead. The national Sinterklaas procession in November will only include Piets with sooty faces this year for the first time, public broadcaster NTR, which organises the event, said in September.

    The Sinterklaas festivities kick off in Apeldoorn on November 16.

    In Deventer meanwhile, a group of around 100 people, including 15 in blackface make-up, took part in a pro-traditional Piet demonstration on Wednesday evening. The local council has already withdrawn plans to mix traditional and sooty Piets in the annual parade after protests but has not yet announced the alternative.

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