16 November 2019 22:38
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Anti-racism campaigners held protests in cities across the Netherlands on Saturday as Dutch children hailed the annual arrival of St. Nicholas and a blackface character who traditionally accompanies him. A man holds a sign as he protests against the arrival of Saint Nicholas and his assistants called "Zwarte Piet" (Black Pete) in The Hague, Netherlands, November 16, 2019. Parades in many cities were marked by a large police presence, after scuffles between groups who see "Black Pete" as racist and those who cherish the character as a fun holiday tradition led to arrests last year. The "Kick Out Black Pete" movement cancelled several events throughout the country after the incident, but still held protests in six cities, including The Hague and Groningen, on Saturday. A recent opinion poll showed 59% of all Dutch wanted to keep "Zwarte Piet" in blackface, while 26% said the tradition needed to be changed gradually.
Since then, major cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam and the national public broadcaster have decided to ditch blackface in favour of Petes smeared with soot — from the chimneys they are said to go down to bring children their presents. Black Pete is the companion character for the St Nicholas in Dutch folklore, traditionally depicted with a black face makeup and red lips. Protests in support of an against the Dutch St Nicholas' controversial sidekick, Black Pete, were held across the Netherlands on Saturday as he arrived arrived at the. Named Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of St. Nicholas arrived on horseback at the nationally televised parade in the central city of Apeldoorn and was organised under heavy security. Hundreds of protestors demonstrating against Black Pete gathered in The Hague, where part of the official parade included full blackface Petes, in opposition to what they see as a racist caricature.
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Hundreds of anti-Black Pete protesters gathered in a park in The Hague, where blackface Petes formed part of the official parade, for a peaceful demonstration. Some Dutch cities, including the capital, Amsterdam, have stopped using blackface makeup in their Sinterklaas parades. Overnight in The Hague, supporters of the traditional version of the character put up hundreds of posters that superimposed the face of the leader of anti-Pete activists on a blackface depiction of Pete.