Mass unrest over French teen’s killing spreads to Brussels, 64 arrested
Nationwide riots triggered by the fatal shooting by French police of a 17-year-old boy spread to Belgium on Thursday, unleashing chaos that resulted in 64 arrests, Brussels police revealed on Friday.
The arrested included 47 minors and 16 adults who have been administratively detained, police said in a statement on Friday. Another minor, who was reportedly seen beating up a police officer, was arrested and questioned but released on Friday.
Crowds of young people gathered in Brussels on Thursday night, using social media meetups to evade the authorities and moving location when police got too close. As the rioters settled on the Anneessens neighborhood and nearby Midi Station as the targets of their rage, the Anneessens metro station was closed for the night and buses through the neighborhood were stopped or rerouted.
Video posted to social media shows rioters setting cars and even buildings on fire and strewing trash through the streets as rudimentary barricades. Local police told the Brussels Times that ten people were arrested for throwing paving stones at cops.
Tuesday’s point-blank shooting of Franco-Algerian teenager Nahel M. during a suburban traffic stop in Nanterre has ignited three nights of riots across France. Some 667 people were arrested across the country on Thursday night as police forces quadrupled their numbers in the streets, deploying 40,000 officers that included anti-terrorist and tactical units.
The unrest reportedly began as peaceful protests before turning violent at the hands of teens armed with fireworks, Molotov cocktails, and other improvised weapons. While the police officer who shot the 17-year-old has been charged with homicide, this announcement did not make a dent in the violence.
Many parts of France have already been in the grip of protest for months as residents denounced Macron’s pension reforms. France’s major unions have vowed not to back down until Macron capitulates.