“I have always respected the freedom of opinion, but in cases of violence against police officers, it is imperative that we take the necessary measures,” City of Brussels’s Mayor Philippe Close stated after the outbursts that occurred during the “March against Marrakech.” Mr. Close reacted to a video circulating on social networks, in which an officer explains that the Mayor’s order is that as many people as possible should be apprehended during the event.
Brussels’s Mayor said he fully respected anyone’s freedom of expression and opinion, “even up to 900 times a year, 900 being the number of events taking place in Brussels each year.”
“But in cases of violence against police officers and of damage done to buildings, it is imperative to take strong action. There is no tolerance for troublemakers,” Mr. Close stressed. “We are not competing, but when all a group wants is to commit violent acts, there will be a response. The officer’s interpretation in the video is another thing.”
The Mayor emphasized that it had nothing to do with alleged anti-right politics. During the “Yellow Vests” demonstration, last Saturday, there were 450 arrests, and 97 arrests were made during Sunday’s march, he said.
Clashes between demonstrators and the police force took place late in the rally, near the Schuman roundabout, and the Berlaymont (a European Commission building), when troublemakers, some of whom were masked, tore up cobblestones, knocked down poles, and targeted security forces.