St Nick comes to town with a racial controversy

first_imgTHE HAGUE, Netherlands — Police arrested 90 protesters Saturday as a traditional Dutch celebration of the arrival of Saint Nicholas was disturbed by demonstrators who say his faithful sidekick, “Black Pete,” is a racist caricature, facing off against supporters of the popular children’s figure.Pete is usually played by a white man who paints his face pitch black, dons a frizzy Afro wig and gives himself bright red lips — stereotypes that disappeared from most places decades ago. In some of the worst scenes of unrest in the increasingly acrimonious Black Pete debate, opponents scuffled with police on the historic marketplace of the city of Gouda as thousands of children welcomed Saint Nicholas nearby.Prosecution office spokesman Wouter Bos said 60 anti-Black Pete activists were arrested for demonstrating outside a location set aside for protesters and were each fined 220 euros ($275). Another 30, both supporters and opponents of Black Pete, were arrested for disturbing public order, Bos said.The Dutch cheese capital of Gouda had had a strategy for reconciliation as Saint Nicholas arrived Saturday. Black Petes walked side-by-side with yellow-colored “Cheese Petes,” a nod to the city’s most famous products but also a concession to critics of Black Pete. The daily Dutch children’s television report on Saint Nicholas’ travels also featured White Petes on Thursday night.last_img read more