‘It makes me sick to my stomach companies even want to get involved’

Christiaan Broersma –

Discriminating stickers produced without regret.

The political world of Rotterdam was shocked after racist stickers were placed on political posters just weeks before the local elections. The stickers, containing QR-codes linked to a Neo-Nazi movement, were mostly placed on posters with people of colour on it.

‘A White Lives Matter sticker placed on the head of Richard Moti of PvdA’

After seeing discriminating stickers placed on his posters, local politician Richard Moti was furious. The stickers had been placed all over the city on political posters. The most common sticker is the ‘White Lives Matter’-sticker’, containing a QR-code to their website. The White Lives Matter movement is often described as a Neo-Nazi movement. With these stickers spreading fast in the urban area of Rotterdam, the question pops up why and how these stickers even exist.

Sticker companies will not take responsibility for printing discriminating chants. An employee from Drukland.nl, one of the biggest sticker suppliers in the Netherlands, states that although he doesn’t always agree with the context of the stickers, it is not their responsibility: ‘We will print anything. As long as it is not illegal, like child pornography or anything like that, we will not interfere. I do not like discriminating myself, but when something is legal, chances are quite big our company will produce the stickers.’

Ron Vermeulen, the owner of Stickerkoning.nl, states he wouldn’t have any problems with printing discriminating stickers: ‘It is an opinion, we live in a free country, right? As long as it is not illegal, we will print the stickers. We also printed stickers for anti-vaxxers.’ Ron states it is not up to them to make up what’s wrong and what’s right: ‘We just produce the stickers, the people that order them are responsible.’

The fact that sticker companies do not interfere when they see discriminating stickers is shocking for some political party members. Elika from DENK, a progressive left-wing party, says she can’t believe these stickers even exist: ‘It is crazy to think that it is even allowed that these stickers are being produced. I cannot believe that there is not some kind of policy in these companies. If you do not want to get involved with things like child pornography, you would think that they would also think twice about discriminating texts on a sticker. Even if it is just a word on a sticker, it can still hurt a lot of people.’ Elika wonders why there is not an ethical manager overseeing the consequences from the stickers that they produce: ‘It makes me sick to my stomach. Even allowing these stickers to be produced makes you part of the problem. As a company you have the responsibility to be involved. I do not understand why a company even wants to be associated with hateful stickers. It proves that we still have a problem with even acknowledging racism.’

Co Engberts, party leader of the PvdA and colleague of Richard Moti is very disappointed in the companies producing the stickers and wonders why the employees did not do anything about the White Lives Matter stickers containing the QR codes: ‘The law is always falling behind on these kinds of aspects. I think a QR-code is not even illegal at this point. Apart from this fact, I am still very surprised that the coworkers did not check the QR code. As an employee of a sticker company, you would not want to be involved in producing this kind of hateful stickers?’