- Category: News
- Created on Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:14
- Written by Amsterdam Herald
The trio, who wore T-shirts with the slogan ‘Zwarte Piet is racisme’ (Black Pete is racism), were led away from the event in Dordrecht in November.
A video of one of the protesters being pinned to the ground and dragged into a side alley by three police officers sparked an outcry when it was posted on YouTube.
Curacao government minister Sheldy Osepa said that the police actions exposed ‘a deep-rooted motive that can be traced back to racism’.
The three protesters have now submitted a protest to the mayor of Dordrecht, Arno Brok, claiming the police intruded on their right to freedom of expression.
Their lawyer, Tamara Buruma, said: ‘The local authority made it clear in advance that it would act against any form of attention-seeking.
‘In taking this step the authority was far too ready to sideline freedom of expression.’
She added that the trio were seeking to provoke a public discussion of the Sinterklaas tradition, which has attracted criticism from beyond the Netherlands for its racial overtones.
The protesters’ slogan refers to the character Zwarte Piet, who traditionally accompanies Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) on his journey from Spain to the Netherlands and distributes sweets to children on December 5. The character is almost invariably portrayed by a white actor in blackface make-up.
‘They wanted to enter into a dialogue with the general public about the tradition. The arrival of Sinterklaas was an outstanding opportunity,’ said Buruma.
The artists claim they were mistreated at the time of their arrest and after they were taken to the police station, because their complaints were not taken seriously at the time.