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230 people detained during the trouble that followed Sunday’s demonstration against the coronavirus measures

Police detained around 230 people during the trouble that followed the demonstration against the coronavirus restrictions on Sunday. 15 people, including 3 police officers, were injured in the trouble. 50,000 people took part in the demonstration. A few hundred people were involved in the violence that followed. The Federal Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden (Flemish Christian democrat) and the Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) have both said that the troublemakers will face prosecution. 

Around 50,000 protesters from home and abroad gathered in Brussels for Sunday’s protest against the measures that are in force to curb the spread of coronavirus. Their reasons being at the demonstration varied from opposition to the Corona Pass to opposition to the vaccination of children.

At around 2pm several speakers from Belgium and abroad started to address the demonstrators that by then had reached Brussels’ Jubel Park. While most of the protesters listened to the speeches in the park, several hundred troublemakers vandalised vehicles and buildings a couple of hundred metres away on and around the Schuman Square. They also attacked police. Later it was a similar scene in the Jubel Park. 

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After a pitched battle during which police used tear gas and watercannon the group was dispersed At least 230 people were detained, the vast majority for breeches of the peace. Others were detained on suspicion of criminal offences such as the possession of items, including inflammable materials that they intended to or had already thrown at the police and for acts of vandalism.

Among the troublemakers were members of far-left groups and members of football hooligan crews. 

Violence soundly condemned

The unions that represent the country’s police officers are angry and disappointed that once again violence has been used against the police. Police officers were pelted with stones, bottles and metal fencing.

Carlo Medo of the NSPV police union told VRT News that "We are in an enormously polarised situation and the police should not be allowed to become the victim of this. Every day it is becoming more and more clear that the police is just the whipping boy for al what is going wrong in the country, and this is simply unacceptable”.

The Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden is also angered by Sunday’s violence. She described the rioting and the way in which the police were attacked as “completely scandalous”.

“Some troublemakers have already been identified and detained. I hope that the others will be identified quickly so that the courts can take swift and decisive action”.

Ms Verlinden added that thanks to the work done by the police on Sunday, far worse had been averted.

The Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo wrote on Facebook that those that committed violent acts would be prosecuted. "Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our society, but society with never accept mindless violence against the police”

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