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Antwerp police deny only arresting black protesters

Credit: Belga

The Antwerp police strongly deny that they deliberately arrested only black people, and no white people during the Black Lives Matter protest in Antwerp on Sunday.

Following the manifestation in the city of Antwerp on Sunday, which saw the police arresting over 100 people, rumours circulated on social media that only black people had been arrested, but that is not true, according to the police. “Of course we do not make a distinction based on skin colour,” police spokesperson Wouter Bruyns told Radio 2 on Monday.

About 1,200 people gathered to protest against racism and police brutality in a demonstration that was not approved by the city council, but was tolerated by the police. Some 150 people were administratively arrested after the protests, but the approach of the police was immediately criticised on social media.

Some parents of arrested youths stated that their black children were arrested while their white friends were not. “There is a lot to do about the intervention of our police yesterday. We emphatically deny that we were harsh. No distinction has been made between white and black people. That’s too crazy for words. We do not do that,” Bruyns said.

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“We spent over an hour talking to the group that did not want to leave the Groenplaats,” he said, adding that everyone who has been arrested was warned in advance.

The police stated that the manifestation took place without issues, but that only the large group of people that stayed on the Groenplaats after it ended were arrested.

“As the tolerance limit regarding not respecting the social distancing was largely exceeded, we called for everyone to leave the place as otherwise we would have to intervene in the interest of public health,” the police said in a press release.

“Even mediation teams from the police were involved. Via loudspeakers, the demonstrators were told what would happen if they did not leave the square. They knew that we would pick them up and bring them by bus to our office at the Noorderlaan,” Bruyns said.

They were identified and received a fine for non-compliance with the coronavirus measures. Minors were picked up by their parents after identification, and the others were released over the course of the evening. Two people had to be handcuffed because they turned against the police.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times