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Pukkelpop ‘outraged’ at racist incident

18:04 20/08/2018
A surprise announcement, 700 wasp stings and a nasty racist incident: This was Pukkelpop 2018

Pukkelpop, Belgium’s second-largest pop and rock festival, finished at the weekend, announcing that next year it would run from Thursday to Sunday instead of the traditional Wednesday to Saturday. It’s an experiment, said festival founder Chokri Mahassine, but it’s also practical in 2019.

“We continue to try to reinvent ourselves on all levels,” he said, “so why not this, too? But also, next year 15 August falls on a Thursday, so festival-goers can make a long weekend out of it.”

The on-site Red Cross tent at the festival in Hasselt faced just one regular complaint this year: wasp stings. Some 700 festival-goers arrived complaining of painful stings.

Hospitals have also recorded twice as many patients coming in for wasp stings than in previous years. The wasp population is up this year because of the warm and dry weather.

The Red Cross notes that only those who are allergic to wasp stings need to visit the emergency room; others should put ice on the sting for relief.

A much more serious incident marred Pukkelpop this year, however, and was widely shared on social media. Two black women were harassed by a group of young white men. The incident has been reported to Unia, Belgium’s centre for equal opportunities.

Cut off their hands

According to the two women, who first shared the experience on Instagram, a group of young men pushed them, pulled their hair and threw drinks at them. They also chanted “Handjes kappen, de Congo is van ons” (Chop off their hands, the Congo is ours). A video was shared of the chanting.

The incident occurred on Saturday, the final night of the festival, during the headlining act, American hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar. The women alerted both the police and Unia. Today is was reported that the Limburg public prosecutor is investigating.

“We have heard testimony and seen the film, of course,” said Anja De Schutter of the prosecutor’s office. “We have asked the police to investigate the incident. First we need to determine if laws were broken, if a punishable offence has been carried out. Then we will work to identify the suspects.”

Pukkelpop organisers had harder words for the young men. “We are totally outraged about the incident that took place during Kendrick Lamar’s performance,” the festival said in a statement. “Pukkelpop is a festival where everyone is welcome. We reject every form of physical or verbal abuse, bullying and behaviour that demonstrates a lack of respect. We are going to look into this and examine what legal steps we can take. These kind of people have no place at Pukkelpop.”

Photo courtesy Pukkelpop/Facebook

Written by Lisa Bradshaw