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Anti-coronavirus protest in Brussels leads to 488 arrests

21:06 31/01/2021

Police made almost 500 administrative arrests on Sunday as an unauthorised demonstration was held in Brussels against the coronavirus measures.

Riot police were present in large numbers in the city centre and at the Atomium after several calls to demonstrate were posted on social media, largely inspired by the anti-curfew protests seen in the Netherlands.

While thousands of people expressed an interest in the gatherings on Facebook, no demonstrators were reported at the Atomium and a peaceful protest on the Mont des Arts, near Central Station, attracted about 150 people.

The number of arrests is three times higher, at 488, as police stopped people at Central, Midi and North stations who they suspected were on their way to the unauthorised protest.

Police said those arrested included football supporters wearing the kits of five different Belgian clubs. Among the items seized were knives, firecrackers and mouthguards.

An administrative arrest is carried out by the police "for the maintenance of public order, security and peace" - to gather individuals' identity details if officers suspect they could be about to commit a public-order offence. Most of those detained were freed promptly.

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga

Written by The Bulletin


Frank Lee

Only in Belgium can a demonstration attracting 150 people lead to 488 arrests.

Feb 1, 2021 15:46