According to police estimates, about 35,000 People flocked in Brussels as part of a ‘Together for Freedom’ protest after the Belgian government last week announced a tightening of restrictions to combat the rising number of COVID-19 cases and coronavirus-related hospitalizations.
The new rules, which went into effect on the weekend, include compulsory indoor and semi-outdoor masks, and compulsory remote work four days a week.
Initially, the protest was peaceful. However, some people were to deviate from the designated route and behave aggressively.
The clashes with the police took place near the EU and government district of the Belgian capital. A group of demonstrators were pushed back by the police using water cannons and tear gas. At that time, among others, stones, bottles and litter bins. Makeshift barricades began to appear. There were also flares and firecrackers.
Three police officers and one of the protesters were injured in the clashes. Moreover, 42 people were detained.
The mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, condemned the “adventurers”, calling for an analysis of recordings on social media due to large-scale damage to small architecture. He thanked the police and other services for “professionalism”.
Belgian media coverage of the protest highlighted the diversity of the protesting crowd. There were both young people and retirees. Flemish nationalists and people with the flags of the LGBT movement showed up.
In recent days, there have been many marches against the restrictions and vaccination against the coronavirus in Europe. Violent clashes with the police took place in the Netherlands on Friday and Saturday. Residents of Austria also protested over the weekend, expressing their opposition to the government’s nationwide lockdown in the streets of Vienna.
(Sources: standaard.be, brusselstimes.com)