Investigation opened into police violence at Brussels protest

Investigation opened into police violence at Brussels protest
© Belga

The Brussels public prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into the police response to the protests held on 24 January in Brussels, where people gathered in Mont des Arts in an unauthorised demonstration against police violence and in support of class justice.

“We can inform you that the prosecution has received several complaints and that the images from the cameras have been saved,” a spokesman for the prosecution told Belga on Thursday.

The demonstration was launched at the initiative of some 20 organisations, which wanted to express their dissatisfaction with a series of incidents in which the police are said to have abused their authority and used unnecessary force, including the recent death of Ibrahima Barrie, which sparked separate protests in Schaerbeek that turned violent.

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Although the protest was not authorized, police allowed a short rally before calling on people to leave.

“The demonstration took place in peace,” said Ilse Van de keere back in January, as a spokesperson for the police. “But afterwards, small groups formed and tried to go to the city center shouting, 'we're going to break everything,' while other people refused to leave. We therefore intervened and made several arrests.”

They made 245 arrests, in fact, including 86 minors. Some of those minors’ parents denounced the manner in which their children were arrested and lodged a formal complaint.

Over the following days, various testimonies circulated on social media networks and in the media claiming that the police had used unnecessary violence, in particular against people who had not participated in the demonstration.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Helen Lyons

The Brussels Times

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