Violence and looting in Brussels after peaceful demonstration
Scenes of violence and looting followed what had been a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration against racism and alleged police violence here in Belgium. Although sheer numbers (10,000+) on the Poelaertplein meant that social distancing was difficult, read impossible, to uphold, those in attendance behaved in a dignified fashion and few if any incidents were reported.
However, this all changed around one hour rafter the demonstration ended. Gangs of youths taunted and threw missiles at the police at the Naamsepoort on the boundary between the City of Brussels and the municipality of Elsene. In Elsene shops were vandalised and looted in the Matonge area that is home to many businesses that are owned by people with roots in Sub-Saharan Africa and on Brussels’ second busiest shopping street the Elsenesteenweg. There were also reports of looting on the prestigious Louizalaan.
Some of the trouble-makers lit fires and the police drove them away from the main streets by the use of water cannon and tear gas.
At the Naamsepoort police officers were pelted with stones and other missiles. They carried out a charge in order to disperse the crowd. A helicopter was also used in the operation.
Speaking on Sunday evening Ilse Van de keere of the Brussels-Capital-Elsene Local Police Service told VRT News that “A number of commercial premises have been damaged. Rubbish bins and cardboard were set on fire along the Elsenesteenweg”
A total of 246 people were detained.