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Officer punches young man who refuses to wear face mask

Credit: Belga

A young man who refused to wear a mask was pepper-sprayed and punched by a police officer in Roeselare (West Flanders) on Saturday.

Two city guards were carrying out checks at Trax, a skate park in Roeselare, and addressed a young man for not wearing a face mask. After discussions got heated and threatened to escalate, the guards called the police.

The young man repeatedly refused to show identification and called the officer a nazi and a fascist, after which the situation escalated.

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After pepper-spraying and punching him, the officer pinned the man down and put his knee on his back so the man could not move. He then received backup and the man was escorted to the police station.

The police “will see what measures we will take towards our employee,” according to Curd Neyrinck, chief of police for the responsible police zone.

“If it turns out that the policeman has crossed the line, measures will be taken against him,” Neyrinck assured.

Neyrinck regrets the incident. “It was our intention for this weekend to check whether the newest corona measures were being followed in the (hospitality industry), for example. It is, however, not the intention to act in such a way.”

“I immediately contacted the chief of police after seeing the footage to set up an objective investigation,” Roeselaere mayor Kris Declercq reacted. “I will follow this up closely.”

“I want to call on everyone to have respect for everyone in these difficult times. Violence and failure to respect the rules can never be condoned anyway. Fighting corona will only work (if we do it) together,” the mayor added.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

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