In this Saturday Nov. 16, 2013, file photo Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Santa Claus, and “Zwarte Piet”, or “Black Pete” arrive in Hoorn, north-western Netherlands. As many Dutch children eagerly anticipate the arrival of their country’s version of Santa Claus this weekend, opponents and supporters of his controversial helper Black Pete are gearing up for protests. Black Pete is often played by white people with their faces daubed in dark makeup. Supporters see him as a traditional children’s character, while opponents decry him as a racist stereotype. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Scattered confrontations broke out Saturday between supporters and opponents of the divisive helper of the Dutch version of Santa Claus, police and media reported, amid a fierce and increasingly polarized debate about the helper known as Black Pete.