Judicial investigation opened into officers’ private racist Facebook group
Thursday, 17 September 2020
An investigation into the Facebook group where police officers allegedly made racist comments has been opened, the Brussels’ public prosecutor’s office said on Thursday, confirming a report by the news website Apache.
Reporters had brief access to the closed group “Thin Blue Line Belgium” during the month of August. According to them, both active and retired police officers exchanged racist and violent comments there.
The Facebook group mainly shared and commented on riots and arrests in Belgium and abroad in August. The posts on the Facebook page are usually heavily commented on or there are discussions among the members, Apache wrote.
Young people with a migration background are clearly and repeatedly dehumanised in the group, according to Apache, which refers to descriptions including “viper brood,” “rats” or “vermin.”
In a number of cases, violence is glorified or encouraged. The officers also exchange tips for arrests that are not by the book. For example, someone advises to give a push to detainees who are being held in a police vehicle so that the person would hit their head against the body of the car.
Apache also noted that fellow users hardly react to the racist language and calls for violence and that the moderator of the page does not seem to play an active role either.
The Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities Unia expressed concern “about police officers making such statements on social media.”
But the Centre also said that it could not assess the comments published on “Thin Blue Line Belgium” because it had not conducted an investigation into the Facebook group itself.