Water cannons and tear gas deployed at Brussels march

Water cannons and tear gas deployed at Brussels march
Credit: Belga

Police have used water cannons and tear gas to dispel demonstrators at the march against the current coronavirus measures in Brussels, according to reports in local media.

Around 35,000 demonstrators joined the march from North station to the Berlaymont building, near the Cinquantenaire Park.

While initially peaceful, the atmosphere changed at around 2:30 PM, Belga News Agency reports, citing Brussels-Ixelles police spokesperson Ilse Van de keere.

According to the route agreed with the authorities, the demonstrators were to leave the inner ring road and turn into rue Joseph II. The police say that some demonstrators wanted to continue straight ahead and threw fireworks at the police. The police then used the water cannon and tear gas against the demonstrators.

Some participants had by this time already arrived at the defined ending place, some went to the Cinquantenaire Park, while others left the procession.

“We are expecting several thousand participants,” Van de Keere, told HLN. “Our people will accompany the crowd from the North Station to Kleine Wetstraat, as is always the case when a demonstration is authorised.”

Police had previously said they do not expect protests to end in a similar situation to the riots in Rotterdam on Friday evening. “The Police is prepared, is consulting with the organisers and will take the necessary measures,” Van de keere added.

A podium has been set up at the finish line to make speeches, with the march expected to end around 5:00 PM.

“We denounce the restrictive measures of freedom, which have not been a structural solution for health care,” the organisers said in their statement.

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