The Belgian Network for Black Lives (BNFBL) collective, which was part of the anti-racism demonstration on the Place Poelaert in Brussels on Sunday, said it was shocked to learn of the events that took place after the rally.
The organisation spoke both about the chaos and looting from the protesters’ side and the police response to it. “That a demonstration against police violence would lead to more police violence is something we can’t imagine,” said spokesperson Stephanie Collingwoode Williams.
The demonstration itself, which was attended by about 10,000 people, took place without problems, but continued with violence and riots, and some shops were looted.
“We have no idea how it could have escalated so quickly,” Williams said. “We have also seen the pictures of what happened in Ixelles and other places, and we regret the damage, but we do not know these people and this is not the message we wanted to get across,” she said, adding that “at least some of these people were members of an anarchist collective composed mainly of white people.”
However, the behaviour of the police is also questionable, according to BNFBL. “We have also seen many images and have testimonies of people who have been victims of police violence. We cannot accept the way the police treated these people and we express our solidarity with them,” Williams said.
“This was an excellent opportunity for the police to show that they could do something different. They could have isolated people and then stopped them, instead of beating them up,” she added.
The Brussels Times