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Dutch police detain protesters before Sinterklaas arrival

Published 12/11/2016

A man dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) follwoed by another one dressed as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) gestures as he arrives on November 12, 2016 in Antwerp. AFP/Getty Images
A man dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) follwoed by another one dressed as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) gestures as he arrives on November 12, 2016 in Antwerp. AFP/Getty Images

Dutch police have detained dozens of protesters and arrested a man carrying a large knife in a bag amid tight security for the arrival of the Dutch Saint Nicholas.

The arrests came as thousands of families lined the historic harbour of Maassluis to welcome the character known as Sinterklaas, with children clambering up trees and street lights to get a better view.

The Sinterklaas celebration has in recent years been at the centre of a debate about race in the Netherlands because of his helper, "Black Pete", who is often played by white people in blackface make-up.

Police spokeswoman Marjan Koert had no further details about the arrest of the armed man. Police tweeted that two busloads of protesters had been detained in nearby Rotterdam.

Children take a selfie with a man dressedas Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) during the traditionnal arrival of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) on November 12, 2016 in Antwerp.
Black Pete is the companion of Saint Nicolas during the Sinterklaas festival celebrated on the evening of 05 December, and has become the subject of much controversy in recent years as some people think it is racist.
/ AFP PHOTO / ANP / KRISTOF VAN ACCOM / Netherlands OUTKRISTOF VAN ACCOM/AFP/Getty Images
Children take a selfie with a man dressedas Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) during the traditionnal arrival of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) on November 12, 2016 in Antwerp. Black Pete is the companion of Saint Nicolas during the Sinterklaas festival celebrated on the evening of 05 December, and has become the subject of much controversy in recent years as some people think it is racist. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / KRISTOF VAN ACCOM / Netherlands OUTKRISTOF VAN ACCOM/AFP/Getty Images
A man dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas)a is welcomed as he arrives followed a man dressed Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) and other participants disguised during on November 12, 2016 in Antwerp. Black Pete is the companion of Saint Nicolas during the Sinterklaas festival celebrated on the evening of 05 December, and has become the subject of much controversy in recent years as some people think it is racist. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / KRISTOF VAN ACCOM / Netherlands OUTKRISTOF VAN ACCOM/AFP/Getty Images
A Black Pete interacts with children during the arrival of Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, in Maassluis, Netherlands, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Sinterklaas and his helper Black Pete are at the center of a long-time controversy because Pete is often played by white people in blackface makeup. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Dutch actor Patrick Mathurin (L) dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) speaks to man also dressed in the same costume next to two women dressed as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) on November 12, 2016 in Maassluis. Black Pete is the companion of Saint Nicolas during the Sinterklaas festival celebrated on the evening of 05 December, and has become the subject of much controversy in recent years as some people think it is racist. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / Lex van Lieshout / Netherlands OUTLEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images
A man dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) salutes people as he arrives on a horse in Maassluis on Novermber 12, 2016. Black Pete is the companion of Saint Nicolas during the Sinterklaas festival celebrated on the evening of 05 December, and has become the subject of much controversy in recent years as some people think it is racist. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / Remko de Waal / Netherlands OUTREMKO DE WAAL/AFP/Getty Images
A child (R) dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) looks on in Maassluis, on Novermber 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / Lex van Lieshout / Netherlands OUTLEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand in front of Dutch actor Patrick Mathurin dressed up as the new ''Sinterklaas'' before the arrival of ''Sinterklaas'' (Saint Nicholas) in Maassluis, The Netherlands, on November 12, 2016. The Dutch children's ombudswoman ruled in September 2016 that
Police officers stand in front of Dutch actor Patrick Mathurin dressed up as the new ''Sinterklaas'' before the arrival of ''Sinterklaas'' (Saint Nicholas) in Maassluis, The Netherlands, on November 12, 2016. The Dutch children's ombudswoman ruled in September 2016 that "Black Pete," the Christmas sidekick of Saint Nicholas, violates UN conventions and children's rights and could incite bullying and discrimination. Dutch children though have grown up with the tradition for generations, and families and kids often dress up themselves as they await December 6 when their shoes are filled with chocolates by kindly Saint Nick. And Saint Nicholas's arrival by boat in The Netherlands, accompanied by a band of Black Petes, is an annual popular family day out. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / Lex van Lieshout / Netherlands OUTLEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images
A Black Pete poses with a child during the arrival of Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, in Maassluis, Netherlands, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Sinterklaas and his helper Black Pete are at the center of a long-time controversy because Pete is often played by white people in blackface makeup. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A Black Pete poses with a child during the arrival of Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, in Maassluis, Netherlands, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Sinterklaas and his helper Black Pete are at the center of a long-time controversy because Pete is often played by white people in blackface makeup. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) gestures as he arrives on a horse in Maassluis on Novermber 12, 2016.
Black Pete is the companion of Saint Nicolas during the Sinterklaas festival celebrated on the evening of 05 December, and has become the subject of much controversy in recent years as some people think it is racist.
/ AFP PHOTO / ANP / Remko de Waal / Netherlands OUTREMKO DE WAAL/AFP/Getty Images
A man dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) gestures as he arrives on a horse in Maassluis on Novermber 12, 2016. Black Pete is the companion of Saint Nicolas during the Sinterklaas festival celebrated on the evening of 05 December, and has become the subject of much controversy in recent years as some people think it is racist. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / Remko de Waal / Netherlands OUTREMKO DE WAAL/AFP/Getty Images
A Black Pete takes part in far-right demonstration in a closed off area while police officers question two people, rear, during the arrival of Sinterklaas, the Dutch Saint Nicholas, in Maassluis, Netherlands, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Sinterklaas and his helper Black Pete are at the center of a long-time controversy because Pete is often played by white people in blackface makeup. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A Black Pete takes part in far-right demonstration in a closed off area while police officers question two people, rear, during the arrival of Sinterklaas, the Dutch Saint Nicholas, in Maassluis, Netherlands, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Sinterklaas and his helper Black Pete are at the center of a long-time controversy because Pete is often played by white people in blackface makeup. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A mother takes a selfie with her daughter and a Black Pete during the arrival of Sinterklaas, the Dutch Saint Nicholas, in Maassluis, Netherlands, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Sinterklaas and his helper Black Pete are at the center of a long-time controversy because Pete is often played by white people in blackface makeup. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A mother takes a selfie with her daughter and a Black Pete during the arrival of Sinterklaas, the Dutch Saint Nicholas, in Maassluis, Netherlands, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Sinterklaas and his helper Black Pete are at the center of a long-time controversy because Pete is often played by white people in blackface makeup. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) and another one dressed as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) gesture from a balcony on November 12, 2016 in Antwerp.
Black Pete is the companion of Saint Nicolas during the Sinterklaas festival celebrated on the evening of 05 December, and has become the subject of much controversy in recent years as some people think it is racist.
/ AFP PHOTO / ANP / KRISTOF VAN ACCOM / Netherlands OUTKRISTOF VAN ACCOM/AFP/Getty Images
A man dressed as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) and another one dressed as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) gesture from a balcony on November 12, 2016 in Antwerp. Black Pete is the companion of Saint Nicolas during the Sinterklaas festival celebrated on the evening of 05 December, and has become the subject of much controversy in recent years as some people think it is racist. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / KRISTOF VAN ACCOM / Netherlands OUTKRISTOF VAN ACCOM/AFP/Getty Images

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