About 500 people were arrested by the Brussels police during the protest against Belgium's coronavirus measures on Sunday, but all of them were released again.
The protests - which had been called for via social media - were not permitted by the local authorities, as there was no guarantee the Covid-19 measures could be respected, but a number of groups were present, ranging from football supporters to Gilets Jaunes, according to the police.
"The arrests were made because the people took part in a protest that was not authorised," Ilse Van de Keere, spokesperson for the Brussels-Capital Ixelles police zone, told The Brussels Times. "We announced in advance that the protests were not allowed to take place, and we also communicated this clearly via Twitter."
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None of them concerned judicial arrests - in which someone is deprived of their liberty within the framework of a judicial investigation, based on a decision by the public prosecutor's office or the police, according to Van de Keere.
“They were all administratively arrested, which means that we recorded their identities, and have drawn up an official report,” she said. “After that, they were allowed to leave.”
Additionally, the police confiscated a number of potentially dangerous items, including a slingshot, knives, firecrackers, Bengal fire, reinforced gloves and a mouthguard.
Wat hadden sommigen op zak die vandaag toch naar #Brussel kwamen? Een katapult, messen, voetzoekers, bengaals vuur, versterkte handschoenen en een gebitsbeschermer. Alleszins geen voorwerpen voor een vreedzame bijeenkomst en dus halen we die voorwerpen van de straat. pic.twitter.com/aBccqMHh2A— PolBru (@zpz_polbru) January 31, 2021
"These are certainly not objects for a peaceful gathering, so we take them off the streets," the police said on Twitter.
"The same procedure was followed for the people who were in possession for these items," Van de Keere said. "We wrote up an official police report for them, and recorded their identities."
The Brussels Times