The demonstration held in Brussels on Sunday to protest against the latest Covid measures turned violent during the afternoon as marchers clashed with police.
The march, from the North Station to the Cinquantenaire Park, had been tightly contained and largely peaceful until it reached the park at around 14.00, when a group of demonstrators clashed with police. Water cannon and tear gas were deployed.
The protest was organised by Europeans United, whose chair and spokesperson Tom Meert explained they were against the “undemocratic” manner in which the measures to stop the spread of Covid were implemented.
The organisers said they were expecting as many as 100,000 marchers, but police have yet to confirm the attendance numbers, speaking for the time being only of “several tens of thousands”.
This was the fifth demonstration against Covid policy in the past two months, and like the others, soon turned violent. As demonstrators left the North station they were searched for dangerous or banned objects. Six administrative arrests were made.
Later, at around 14.00, a group of protesters in the area of Place Schuman in the European quarter clashed with police, who were reported to have used tear gas. Two water cannon were also deployed, confirmed Ilse Van de Keere, spokesperson for the police zone Brussels-Capital-Ixelles.
The protesters allegedly caused damage to vehicles and buildings in the vicinity, and smashed the office windows of the European External Action Service (EEAS); which describes itself as “the diplomatic service and combined foreign and defence ministry of the European Union”. The building stands directly on Place Schuman.
Soon after, police moved into the park with water cannon to clear the gathering.
Organiser Tom Meert blamed the violence on ‘several hundred’ trouble-makers. “They are the old world, we are the new,” he told De Standaard.