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Police accused of violence at Reclaim the Night feminist rally
About 70 people were arrested in downtown Brussels on Saturday night for taking part in the "Reclaim the Night" feminist rally - in a police operation which several witnesses described as violent.
Demonstrators gathered near Sainte-Catherine for the fifth edition of the march, which aims to speak out about sexism and violence.
"Police with shields surged towards us," the organisers say on their website. "We were brutally taken out of the group one by one, thrown on the floor, pulled by the hair and searched."
The protestors were taken by bus to the police barracks in Etterbeek: "We were taken out of the buses one by one and filmed, and those who did not want to be filmed had their face held up with force, some were grabbed by the throat, and then we were split into two groups of 'men' and 'women', according to the logic of the police."
All the arrested participants were freed by about 1.00 on Sunday morning. A police spokesman said: "No formal request for authorisation was made. A few days before the event, we tried to get in touch with the organisers, who did not respond.
"On Saturday evening we tried to talk to them, to no avail. No one identified themselves as being the organiser. It was decided to prevent the event going ahead and to make administrative arrests."
He added: "If the participants in the event have a complaint to make about the police's actions, we invite them to make themselves known. The entire police operation was filmed. The images will be examined when investigating complaints."