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People dressed as Zwarte Piet attack Amnesty demonstrators in Dutch town

“It’s a children’s party”, cried Zwarte Pieten defenders, as Piet cosplayers doused protesters’ cars in fuel and brutally attacked them.

Amnesty International, a human rights organisation, joined forces with Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) on Saturday to protest against the Sinterklaas entry into Staphorst, in the northeast of the Netherlands.

It was at the entrance to Staphorst that these protesters were attacked by a hostile mob in Pieten cosplay, reports the NOS.

What the Dutch is a Zwarte Piet?

When Sinterklaas visits a city, he is accompanied by Zwarte Pieten, which are usually (white) Dutch people wearing blackface, afro wigs, and over-lined red lips.

READ MORE | Zwarte Piet: the full guide to the Netherlands’ most controversial tradition

These Pieten have become rather controversial in recent years, and some cities (such as Amsterdam) have even gone so far as to cut funding for parades that contain them, citing racism as a big reason why.

Protesters were attacked

Both KOZP and Amnesty International had planned a demonstration in the village of Staphorst, as its Sinterklaas celebrations were still accompanied by Zwarte Pieten.

However, before the protesters could enter the village, they were surrounded by dozens of rioters, some of whom were dressed up as Pieten.

Armed with eggs and fireworks, the rioters and cosplayers initially attempted to drive the protesters away.

B-b-but think of the children!

Cosplayers shouted things like “get out!” and “it’s a children’s party!” as they violently threw eggs and fireworks at protesters, whilst dousing their cars with fuel.

Translation: Let’s leave aside the fact that Zwarte Piet is racist for a moment. Surely this is going way too far, people! If these are your supporters attacking peaceful citizens, it’s time you asked yourself out loud, am I on the right side of history?

Not satisfied with just driving off the anti-Pieten protesters, confused cosplayers also used a tractor to pen a car in, so that the mob could continue the attack for half an hour.

The mayor of Staphorst was finally forced to ban the demonstration out of safety concerns.

A police investigation has been launched

The Overijssel Police published a press release on Saturday, which details that they have launched an investigation into the Staphorst riots.

Both international treaties and Dutch law uphold the right to make peaceful demonstrations, and any hindrances count as an offence.

What do you think of this attack? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Featured Image: René Cortin/WikimediaCommons/CC4.0

Liana Pereira
Liana Pereira
Primarily fuelled by cheese and lots (LOTS!) of coffee, Liana is a Burgher from sunny Sri Lanka that’s in the midst of wrapping up her linguistics degree. While writing will *always* have her heart, she also likes travelling, dogs, and heavy metal. As an observer of all things weirdly and wonderfully Dutch since 2018, she’s thrilled to have the ‘write’ opportunity to help others feel more at home here.


  1. Could you please adjust your article to leave the term ‘Cosplay’ out of it? Cosplayers are part of a peaceful community. Just FYI, a quick definition that I’ve found online:
    “A cosplayer dresses up as a character from a movie, book, or video game. Cosplayers put on a costume to portray a character as realistically and accurately as possible. A costume is simply dressing up as someone from a book, movie, or video game.”
    These people are clearly not cosplayers.

  2. Excellent. Anti Zwarte Piet protestors are just fascists imposing their views on others. As adults, we are perfectly capable of forming our own opinions and don’t need Amnesty to tell us what to think


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