Police were ‘needlessly violent’ at Brussels jenever party, students say
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    Police were ‘needlessly violent’ at Brussels jenever party, students say

    The party reportedly got out of hand after the owner decided to close down the event. Credit: Screengrab Twitter/Sofie Coens

    The Brussels’ student club Bruxellas, which organised Monday’s ‘daydisco’ jenever party that made national headlines after police intervened with teargas, said that the intervention was “needlessly violent.”

    The party – held in the Marolles district of Brussels by a Flemish student group – reportedly got out of hand after the owner decided to close down the event. The ‘Jeneverpulling’ is an annual event to celebrate the start of the second semester for the students of the Bruxellas association.

    “The unnecessary and excessive use of pepper spray by the police towards our guests is absolutely NOT approved by us, and is scandalous,” the student club said on the event’s Facebook page. “Dozens of people got pepper spray in their mouths and eyes, and the police hit female students,” they added.

    On Wednesday, the police said that they had to use pepper spray because the organiser of the event said they no longer had control of the party, and young people threw glass bottles at the club’s security guards.

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    “The officers were exclusively French-speaking, which did not benefit the communication between them and our (Dutch-speaking) students,” one member of the student club said, reports Het Laatste Nieuws, adding that no glass bottles were thrown “since all drinks were served in plastic cups, and it was forbidden to bring glass bottles outside.”

    Translation of tweet: “Without any reason (police never said we had to leave the street) police are spraying tear gas!”

    “Even though there was no aggression or resistance, the police immediately acted harshly. They used pepper spray, hit people and had their police dogs with them. But at no time was there any threat from the partygoers. At least fifty students were affected by this -in our eyes completely disproportionate- police action,” the student added. One man was bitten by a police dog.

    The student club itself has not filed a complaint, but several angry students and their parents reportedly filed complaints against the police online, according to Bruxellas.

    According to De Standaard, the police themselves have no knowledge of these complaints. “The entire intervention is still under internal review to determine the exact circumstances,” they said.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times