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14 Mar, 2021 00:50

‘Move in groups, loot stores’: BLM protest over black woman’s arrest descends into violence in Belgium (VIDEOS)

‘Move in groups, loot stores’: BLM protest over black woman’s arrest descends into violence in Belgium (VIDEOS)

A protest against police brutality in Liege, Belgium has spiraled into clashes and looting, after an initially peaceful demonstration was hijacked by around 200 hooligans who went on to wreck the city center, police said.

Demonstrators took to the streets of the eastern Belgian city on Saturday to protest the arrest of a black woman by police earlier this week. The march was peaceful until a group of rowdy youth joined in, and then spread through the city center, wreaking havoc.

“We are dealing with two hundred young people, ‘casseurs’, who move very quickly, in groups, and loot stores,” a police spokeswoman told AFP. 

Vandals smashed store windows and “ransacked a whole McDonald’s” in their assault on city businesses, police said.

Police used water cannons to disperse the crowd as rioters threw rocks at the officers and attacked police vehicles. 

Several officers were injured, police said.

The video that triggered Saturday’s protest and sparked accusations of racism against the Liege police, shows officers pinning a woman of Congolese descent to the ground. The woman claimed that an officer beat her with a baton and almost choked her after she refused to get to the ground and set out to leave following an ID check. The woman, identified by local media as Tania, said that she approached the officers herself after she saw them surrounding a woman, who apparently felt unwell. Being a caregiver, she said she wanted to help the woman until the ambulance arrived. However, her interaction with the police quickly took a turn for the worse.

Police defended the officers’ conduct, claiming that the woman, who is now being accused of “rebellion,” went berserk and bit one of the officers, which led to the incident. Police spokesperson Jadranka Lozina described the use of force as “a clean, justified intervention,” insisting that “police have nothing to be ashamed of.”

The incident has drawn comparisons with the death of American man George Floyd in police custody, which triggered a wave of protests in the US last year. The protests were often marred by violence, spiraling into looting and vandalism.

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