Police officers compensated over anti police repression art show in Brussels
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    Police officers compensated over anti police repression art show in Brussels

    A court ordered the organisers of an art show on police repression to pay compensation to police officers recognisable in the photos. Credit: DON’T SHOOT – exposition collective/Facebook

    A court in Brussels has ordered the organisers of an art show about police repression to pay up to €500 in compensation to officers who were recognisable in the exposition.

    The art show, called Don’t Shoot, opened on 3 November in a cultural centre in Saint-Gilles and displayed “scenes of police action against migrants, social and organised citizen’s movements” which, according to the organisers act as a “particular testimony of a deteriorating democracy.”

    The exposition led to a complaint from the Brussels-Ixelles police zone over the fact that officers from the police zone were pictured in the images and were recognisable in them.

    “The image of the exposition’s poster, showing a person shooting migrants at close range with a flash-ball is the subject of a withdrawal request from [police] because they recognised one of their colleagues in it,” the exposition’s Facebook event page reads.

    Posted by Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing – Photographies on Saturday, November 3, 2018

    “Their request was motivated by a concern to protect the officers’ privacy,” the organisers added.

    The police’s demand reached the court of first instance in Brussels which on Monday ordered the art show’s organisers to pay €250 and €500 to two of the four officers behind the complaint.

    The court recognised that the principle of freedom of expression meant images of police officers in action can be taken and shown without having to blur faces or other signs of identity.

    But, according to the court, that the same principle did not protect the use, show or distribution of images of an on-duty officer in a context in which officers are associated with illegal or problematic behaviour, namely in cases where such a behaviour is not easily proven or does not exist, according to BX1.

    Following the complaint, the art show’s organisers decided to keep the images but blur the officers’ face, saying that the art show’s objective was not to put a person’s identity in the spotlight, but his function.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times