Police violence in Anderlecht: 'Not an easy commune'

Police violence in Anderlecht: 'Not an easy commune'
A screengrab from the video. Credit: SLFP/Twitter

A video shared by a police union showing violence against police officers in Brussels has drawn a response from local government condemning the actions and enforcing their support for local police.

Flemish Minister in charge of Brussels, Benjamin Dalle, spoke out in condemnation of the violence, saying that he is ready to talk with the officers and trade unions after he was singled out on social media.

The minister was specifically called out on Wednesday on social media by the trade union SLFP, which shared the video showing police officers attacked during an intervention in Anderlecht.

The police union shared the video on its Facebook page on Wednesday evening, adding the following comment: "What do you think Pascal Smet and Benjamin Dalle? Should our colleagues have done otherwise? Was it a priority?"

Previously Smet had questioned the police following the death of a 19-year-old boy in a police chase in Anderlecht last month. The incident subsequently led to riots, and a wider discussion of police activity in the city. “Was this the top priority that night?” he said. Following the incident, Dalle had asked for understanding for the situation of many young people.

"They Deserve Our Respect"

Reacting on Thursday, Dalle condemned violence against police officers. "Violence against the police is unacceptable. Perpetrators must be severely punished. Police officers often work in difficult circumstances. They deserve our respect," he said on Twitter.

A spokesman for the minister also said that he was always ready to engage in dialogue with the police and trade unions. "He has also already gone out into the field to talk with the police. He understands their situation and obviously wants to support them," his spokesman added.

The president of the MR, Georges-Louis Bouchez, also declared his support for the police officers, deploring "a real problem of respect for the forces of law and order".

"We know it's not an easy commune"

The mayor of Anderlecht, Fabrice Cumps, has also voiced support, saying that it is not always easy for the police to intervene in his municipality. The mayor defended the police and stressed that they follow the instructions to combat crime.

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Shopkeepers in and around the Chaussée de Mons, where the video was recorded, have complained to the police and the municipal authorities about the increasing number of shoplifting incidents. The mayor, therefore, instructed the police a few days ago to consider stricter checks in order to identify the thieves.

"During the intervention (filmed by an amateur), this instruction was followed and the police tried to intercept the thieves. We know that this is not an easy commune. I immediately inquired about the state of health of the police officers," the mayor said Thursday.

"We must not fall into caricature and say that police and young people are at war. We shouldn't make generalisations about young people," Cumps said.

There is no ready-made solution, but the support of the federal authorities for the different police zones is once again requested. "It is mainly the federal government that can do more and fund the police zones properly. The current financing has not been in line with the current situation for a long time now," Cumps added

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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