Black Lives Matter Belgium cancels protest amid storm of criticism

Black Lives Matter Belgium cancels protest amid storm of criticism

A protest slated for Monday and launched by a group called Black Lives Matter Belgium will not be going forward, the organisers announced after they were hit by a wave of criticism.

Hours after announcing the protest, the group said the event, set to take place on Monday afternoon in Place de la Monnaie, in central Brussels, will not be going forward.

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The organisers said they had decided to cancel the event due to a lack of organisation and because they had not received authorisation from the police.

The post was accompanied by a screenshot of an email message in Dutch signed Daniel Van Calck, commissaire of the Brussels-Ixelles police zone.

The cancellation also came after the organisers, who remain anonymous, were hit by a wave of criticism and accused of disregarding black people's safety by calling on them to protest despite the current ban on gatherings in Belgium.

Hours after the protest was announced, several messages questioning the identities and intentions of the group behind the event began cropping up online, with some accusing them of links to the Flemish nationalist N-VA party.

An anti-racist collective in Belgium called Sans Blanc De Rien urged their followers on social media not to attend the protest, stressing the lack of information regarding the identities of the organisers and saying that it could expose attendants to police repression.

"Several anti-racist activists in Belgium warned that the organisers refused to reveal their identities," the collective wrote, adding: "There are several suspicions regarding the intentions of those behind this protest."

Additional messages circulating on social media directly linked the organises with the N-VA and called the event "a trap" and "a sh*t show."

Created on 30 May, organisers said their page was "inspired by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the US," a grassroots anti-racism group campaigning against systemic police racism and brutality.

The creation of BLMBelgium follows a week of chaotic protests in the US, sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who suffocated to death as a white police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck for over eight minutes.

In statements posted on Facebook in English, French and Dutch, the organisers said they were "four black women" whose identities would be "revealed during a future event," and also said they were "not N-VA, Nazis or Donald Trump supporters."

The Brussels Times has reached out to the group and their critics for comment.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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