Police chief acknowledges 'slip-ups', denies institutional racism

Police chief acknowledges 'slip-ups', denies institutional racism
Credit: Belga

The head of the federal police spoke out against claims of institutional racism in the police on Thursday on Flemish radio.

After demonstrations in the United States denouncing police violence against African-Americans, a debate about police violence against racialised people started in Belgium.

Marc De Mesmaeker, Commissioner-General of the federal police, said he does not like the way this debate was launched.

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The situation in the United States is quite different from that in Belgium, according to De Mesmaeker, for example when it comes to "recruitment, selection, training and sanctions."

The Belgian police were dragged through the mud, in De Mesmaekers eyes, and made the subject of "statements without nuance."

"We are deeply outraged," he added. "That's enough."

There are what De Mesmaeker calls "occasional slip-ups," but there is "no problem of institutional racism" within the police force, according to him. He wants to continue the fight against inappropriate behaviour or statements among his personnel, however.

The police have been called out by the League for Human Rights for using excessive force during the lockdown, and footage has surfaced of clashes between police and citizens.

On Wednesday, a German MEP announced she was filing a complaint against the Brussels police for being treated harshly during a police check on Tuesday.

De Mesmaeker wants to "maintain and intensify" the dialogue with all those concerned, calling for a debate with NGOs, which had made recommendations, especially regarding ethnic profiling by the police.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

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