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Cyclist attacked and spat on by motorist in Anderlecht

18:53 05/11/2020

A motorist attacked a cyclist in Anderlecht at the weekend, spitting in her face and pulling out a wad of her hair. The experience only got worse when the cyclist reported the incident to police.

Tine Schuermans, 28, and a friend were riding together in a narrow street, when a driver began to swerve and rev his motor behind them. The friend yelled at the driver to stop, and the pair ducked into a one-way street near Square de l’Aviation where the driver couldn’t enter.

The motorist quickly entered the street from the other end, however, in order to confront the women. He opened his window “to ask what our problem was,” said Schuermans on social media. “I said that there was no problem, but I was mad when I was talking, and a bit of spit flew out of my mouth. His take on it is that I spit on him.”

So, according to Schuermans, the driver exited the vehicle, grabbed her and pushed her head against his car, pulling out a wad of her hair. She struggled to get away, and he spat twice in her face. “It was seriously a fountain,” she says. “I was covered with spit.”

Spate of incidents

A resident in the street intervened, trying to calm the man down, while the women called the police. Schuermans speaks Dutch, and the police officer only spoke French, so other police officers had to be called.

In the police car on the way to the station, the women were told that they could file the complaint in Dutch and would not have to see their assailant again. Once at the station, however, they were put in the same room as the passenger in the car – a friend of the man who attacked them – and had to make their statement in a mix of French and English.

This led to misunderstandings about the spitting, whereby Schuermans was threatened with jail time and her fingerprints and photo were taken. It left her, she said, feeling like the perpetrator rather than the victim.

The South police zone has now opened an internal investigation into the incident and promised Schuermans that she can file another statement in Dutch.

The altercation follows a spate of similar incidents in September in which cyclists were treated aggressively by motorists, with one woman being hit in the face by an angry motorist. Pro Velo cycle organisation reports that aggression from drivers is something that cyclists face daily, even if it usually involves verbal rather than physical abuse.

Photo ©Getty Images

Written by Lisa Bradshaw

Comments

danbruylandt

Brussels is officially a bilingual city!
Flemish since its very beginning until approximately the mid 19th century, then the supposedly posh francophones (and francofiles took over.
It's a crying shame that the police are not bilingual.
It's ─ quite simply ─ flagrant discrimination of Dutch speaking citizens.
Have these coppers never been to school???

Nov 6, 2020 13:27
Frank Lee

I was reading the article and had to revert to see where it had happened. I don't understand how you can be a police officer in Brussels and not know both French and Dutch, and possibly some English as well.

Nov 6, 2020 16:36
Anon3

So who are these men? Why the reluctance to say who they are? No problem naming the victim and even rudely just referring to her by her surname.. How about the names of these big brave men?
And yes, supposedly all cops in Brussels speak the two main national languages. They can be forgiven for not knowing German.

Nov 9, 2020 01:41
John P

1. The root cause(s) of this seemingly increasing aggression towards cyclists must be investigated.
2. The fact that she was charged is good proof that spitting is nowadays considered use of a lethal weapon "thanks" to the new corona virus.
3. The fact that the motorist has not (yet) been charged, means that we can chase down and physically attack someone who supposedly spat on us, or breathed on us, or touched us, or whatever... Interesting, very interesting.
4. Police officers are proving ever more frequently that they are not the best match for their job. (Remember the nazi salute officer in the airport incident and even worse, the explanation that came afterwards, etc).

Nov 10, 2020 10:46