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Brussels in negotiations with Black Lives Matter over George Floyd protest
The City of Brussels is in negotiations with representatives from Black Lives Matter, over plans for a demonstration this Sunday in response to the death of George Floyd in the United States.
More than 5,000 people on Facebook have registered to join a protest outside the Justice Palace on Sunday at 15.00. Another 10,000 people have replied that they are "interested" in the event, which has not yet been authorised.
The death of African-American George Floyd during a violent arrest in Minneapolis has sparked unrest in the US and abroad.
Here in Belgium, the federal government has banned all demonstrations as part of the coronavirus public health measures. Speaking after Wednesday's national security council meeting, prime minister Sophie Wilmès acknowledged that there was anger about events in the US, but urged people not to demonstrate.
"In many countries, events bringing together thousands of people have been organised," she said. "Some people would like to organise a similar gathering here, but we urge you to consider your health and show respect for healthcare workers. There are other ways to show support for a cause."
Brussels mayor Philippe Close said the municipality was looking at finding a compromise with the organisers, potentially allowing the demonstration to go ahead with strict conditions on distancing and mask-wearing.
The Brussels-Ixelles police force said it was "making preparations" and assessing "what measures need to be taken". A smaller unauthorised protest, attended by about 50 people, was held on Place de la Monnaie on Monday.
Photo: A protest earlier this week in Ghent. Olivier Schier/Belga