Man dies after arrest in Antwerp: police send protesters home

Man dies after arrest in Antwerp: police send protesters home
Credit: Belga

Young people gathered in Antwerp to protest against police violence following the death of a 29-year-old man after an arrest on Sunday, but the police stopped the group before the demonstration could start.

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of young people responded to a call on social media to gather in Antwerp to protest after the death of Akram, a 29-year-old Algerian man, after an arrest close to the Antwerp train station.

The police were on the scene en masse and stopped the group at the Meir, the main shopping street.

"The demonstration is not allowed and will not be tolerated. Whoever does show up, will be kindly asked to leave," the police said beforehand.

Around 2:00 PM, youth workers from Samen Op Straat, Samenlevingopbouw and other organisations sent home several people who showed up. "It is better that we do it than that they are arrested or fined," one of the workers told Gazet van Antwerpen.

Translation: "This afternoon on the Meir, the police locked in some 40 youths at a forbidden demonstration. Youth workers & mediation teams were in constant conversation with the activists. Calm was maintained with the exception of the arrest of a young person who attacked a police colleague."

Not long after, a larger group gathered on the Meir, the main shopping street in the city, to protest. The police arrived on the scene to stop the demonstrators.

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The police sent everyone home. Police mediation teams are still in the area to talk to people who are still hanging around, and is are also asking them to go home. "On the Meir, a man who dealt a blow to one of our people was arrested," police spokesperson Sven Lommaert told Gazet van Antwerpen.

A video of an arrest close to the Antwerp train station has been causing a stir on social media for several days now. The images were made on Sunday afternoon, and show how the police restrain a man. The man, a 29-year-old Algerian known as Akram, became unwell. He was resuscitated on the scene, but later died in hospital.

A judicial investigation into the death of the man has been opened.

"The first results of the drug screening during the autopsy are positive, with regard to the use of different amphetamines," Lieselotte Claessens, spokesperson for the Public Prosecutor's Office, told De Standaard.

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