Four investigations announced into police clampdown on Extinction Rebellion protest

Four investigations announced into police clampdown on Extinction Rebellion protest
Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse environmental protesters occupying a square. Credit: © Belga

Four disciplinary investigations will be launched following a demonstration in which they are accused of violently repressing an environmental protest in Brussels.

Brussels Mayor Philippe Close announced the investigations on Monday, following a city council meeting which coincided with an anti-police violence protest, attended by around 400 people.

The protest was organised jointly by different environmental and social movements in response to an environmental protest on 12 October, led by climate action group Extinction Rebellion, which organised a peaceful occupation of the Place Royale.

Over 400 protesters were arrested during the demonstration, broken off by police use of water cannons and tear gas.

While police said they were attempting to dislodge protesters from the square in order to allow public transport to resume, their reaction prompted condemnation from observers, after images emerged showing some officers' hard-handed approach towards demonstrators.

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Two investigations will target the use of tear gas canisters, a second one will be based on 33 testimonies filed by Extinction Rebellion members, and the last one will examine a complaint filed by broadcaster VRT regarding an incident in the police station, BX1 reports.

The council meeting saw lawmakers with the green and socialist parties express concerns over the events, with the Parti Socialiste's Opuku Bosompra criticise police for treating "non-violent people" like "criminals."

David Weytsman of Francophone liberal MR party said that police officers often "risked their lives" to ensure public safety, but said that questions still remained around the violent nature of the officer's response.

The investigations will be carried out internally by the Bruxelles-Ixelles police zone, according a statement from their spokesperson.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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