Vlissingen apologizes for role in slavery past; no arrests after racist slurs smeared on slavery monument

The mayor of Vlissingen, Bas van den Tillaar, has apologized on behalf of the municipality for the slavery past of the town in Zeeland. Vlissingen was the “undisputed capital” of the Dutch slave trade in the second half of the eighteenth century, according to an investigation commissioned by the municipality several years ago. Van den Tillaar also apologized for the “insufficient understanding” of the feelings of the descendants of the enslaved people.

“On behalf of the city council of Vlissingen, I would like to sincerely apologize for slavery in Vlissingen,” Van den Tillaar said Saturday afternoon. “For the practices of slavery and slave trade carried out by the then members of the city council in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.”

He also apologized for “the inadequate and one-sided attention given to slavery’s past in recent decades.” Van den Tillaar said the “flip side” of history should no longer be hidden. “We pull it so close to us that we feel the pain. Then and now.”

The Vlissingen City Council in April had narrowly approved a proposal to apologize on July 1 for the city’s role in the slavery past. “What we cannot do is undo the degrading practices of history,” the mayor said at the Sint Jacobskerk, where a commemoration and ceremony were held. “What we can do is get to know history more than before and pass it on to each other, discuss it, and process it. There is still a lot of work to be done. The graffiti that took place today shows that again.”

Van den Tillaar referred to the slavery monument that had been erected in Vlissingen a day earlier but without permission. The monument was covered with stickers and racist slurs on Saturday.

No one has yet been arrested for the graffiti on the wall behind the slavery monument that residents of Vlissingen put up Thursday night, a police spokeswoman said. The police have launched an investigation into the racist slogans, which were smeared on the wall and sidewalk a day after the monument was placed there.

The initiators of the monument have already announced that they will press charges, and the municipality plans to do the same for the graffiti on the wall and sidewalk. “This will most likely happen on Monday,” according to the police. A spokesperson for the municipality confirmed this when asked and said that the graffiti was immediately removed by a cleaning team on Saturday.

The municipality of Vlissingen will meet with the initiators of the illegal placement of the slavery monument on Monday or Tuesday, the municipality said. After that, it will be decided what to do with the monument.

Reporting by ANP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *