A violent clash between police and protesters broke out during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations in the eastern Belgian city of Liege on Saturday, March 13.
Initially, the BLM demonstration was peaceful until it was hijacked by around 200 rowdy youth, reports said. The protest was staged against the arrest of a black woman by police earlier this week for "rebellion" in the city. The woman had accused the police of racism, according to a police spokeswoman. The police have rejected the claims and said that the black woman had resisted arrest.
During the violence, several police officers got injured. The demonstrators vandalized stores and assaulted city businesses while police used three water cannons in a bid to disperse the rowdy crowd.
The rioters threw rocks at the central police station and attacked the vehicles of police officials during the protest against police brutality. Reportedly, one of the officers had to be taken to the hospital after being assaulted and knocked down from their motorcycle.
Apart from having wrecked the city, the rowdy youths ransacked a whole McDonald's, according to the spokeswoman in the city. "We are dealing with two hundred young people, 'casseurs', who move very quickly, in groups, and loot stores," the police spokeswoman told the media. "Nine injured people were taken to hospital, including five police officers," she added. The spokeswoman also said that arrests were in progress.
Meanwhile, the Twitterati condemned the violence and slammed demonstrators involved in the protest and claimed them to be terrorists. One of the Twitter users wrote: "This is now an international terrorist group, and should be treated as such! 'Move in groups, loot stores."
Police reinforcements were deployed to deal with the violent crowd the city centre calm was restored by late Saturday. The police have urged the citizens not to go to the area where the violence took place while the shops affected in the area were asked to be closed.
What triggered the BLM protest in Belgium?
The protest was triggered by a video which sparked accusations of racism against the Liege police on Saturday. The video shows police officers pinning a black woman to the ground. The woman claimed police brutality saying that one officer almost choked her and beat her with a baton for refusing to get to the ground following an ID check.
Who triggered the Belgium BLM protest?
The local media have identified the black woman as Tania, who is a caregiver. The woman claimed that she approached the police officers herself after she saw them surrounding an apparently sick woman. When she wanted to extend a helping hand, her interaction with the police took a turn for the worse which led to the arrest. However, police defended the officers' conduct and claimed the woman went berserk as she bit one of them.