Belgian rioters attacked the king's car in Brussels in violent unrest over the death of a black man in police custody arrested for violating the country's strict coronavirus rules.
More than 500 demonstrators, some of them with signs reading "Black Lives Matter", gathered in the Belgian capital on Wednesday after the death of 23-year-old Ibrahima Barrie.
Barrie was arrested by police in town on Saturday for crossing the limit for outdoor gatherings of more than four people. The city also has a strict 10 p.m. curfew as part of the restrictions that have brought the country's coronavirus rate under control after its spike in November.
Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said on Twitter that the police had "arrested more than 100 people", while a police spokeswoman for the AFP news agency confirmed that "several" arrests had been made.
Pictures of the riot scene near Gare du Nord train station showed King Phillipe's car being hit by stones and other projectiles as it drove through the area.
A police station was also set on fire by rioters who threw Molotov cocktails. A video showed the building submerged in flames. Other images showed that fires had been lit in the city streets.
According to the Belgian police, more than 500 demonstrators gathered in Brussels on Wednesday after a 23-year-old black man died in police custody on Saturday
The car of the Belgian King Phillipe (pictured, recognizable by license plate 1) was attacked by demonstrators as it drove through the area
Pictures from the riot scene showed King Phillipe's car being hit by stones and other projectiles as it drove through the area.
The 23-year-old man who died in custody was publicly identified with only the initials I.B. Some Belgian media reported his name was Ibrahima Barrie (picture)
A police station was set on fire (picture) and other pictures showed that fires had been set on the streets of the city
King Phillipe (pictured) was traveling from his workplace in Brussels to the Palace of Laeken, his official residence, when the car was implicated in the riots
While the demonstration began peacefully, with speeches from Barrie's family and their lawyer around 4pm. Local time soon changed the atmosphere.
In response to the group, stones, fireworks and other objects were thrown at the police. The demonstrators shouted "police, murderers".
As the riots escalated, the local news channel HLN reported that the king's car – recognizable by the license plate “1” – “suddenly appeared nearby”.
Protesters reportedly threw objects on the car before the king's security detail took measures to keep the vehicle away from the rioters.
The EPA news agency announced that the king was traveling from his workplace in Brussels to the Palace of Laeken, his official residence.
The protesters asked the authorities to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the man's death on Saturday night.
Brussels prosecutors announced on Wednesday that they are requesting the appointment of an examining magistrate after the man's death.
Barrie was arrested after allegedly trying to run away from police officers who were screening a group of people gathered in downtown Brussels despite COVID-19 measures restricting social gatherings, prosecutors said.
He was taken to a police station, where he passed out, and then taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:22 pm local time.
At a rally on Wednesday outside the police station, Barrie's family lawyer claimed that an initial autopsy had revealed the man had died of a heart attack.
Attorney Alexis Deswaef also accused the police of acting too slowly when Barrie collapsed in custody.
"It took five to seven minutes for anyone to act," he said. "You should have helped him because as long as Ibrahima was deprived of his freedom, the police were responsible for him."
The toxicologist's first results also said there was nothing to suggest he had been using drugs before his death, HLN reported, but added that he was found with three ecstasy pills in his possession. Official results have yet to be published.
The protesters asked the authorities to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the man's death on Saturday night. Pictured: Hundreds of protesters gather around Gare du Nord during a demonstration. Some hold signs that read “Justice for Ibrahima” (pictured).
Ibrahima B (R) 's mother takes part in a demonstration outside the police station in Brussels on January 13, 2021, where her son was held when he collapsed
Police officers attempt to extinguish a fire in a dumpster in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on Wednesday after violent clashes in which over 100 people were arrested
A protester throws stones at police officers in Brussels on Wednesday as protesters clash with police after the death of a 23-year-old black man in police custody on Saturday
Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said on Twitter that police arrested more than 100 people in the clashes on Wednesday, with 500 protesters demonstrating
Health workers provide first aid after the clash between police and protesters
The prosecutor said that the Belgian Committee P, an independent body that oversees the police services, is conducting an investigation and a forensic doctor has been appointed to perform an autopsy and toxicological tests.
Belgian media reported that Barrie started taping the police on his smartphone on Saturday when officials decided to conduct an ID check on him.
Prosecutors said they had confiscated video surveillance images from both the police station and the place where the man was arrested.
His family and lawyer met with the attorney general on Wednesday morning. Prosecutors said they had been given a guarantee that "all means will be and will be used to shed light on what happened".
A line of police officers stand guard while protesters gather at the police station around Gare du Nord during a demonstration following the death of 23-year-old Ibrahima Barrie
A woman wearing a face mask carries a sign that reads "End police brutality now" after the death of 23-year-old Ibrahima Barrie at the police station
Police officers are moving down a street in Brussels to use a water cannon to subdue protesters who demonstrate after the death of 23-year-old Ibrahima Barrie
Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden condemned the death of the man and the subsequent unrest as "completely unacceptable" and assured the public about the investigation.
"We will investigate and, if necessary, take the necessary steps to also condemn the misconduct by the police," said Ms. Verlinden, as quoted by the Brussels Times.
"But today there is no reason for it, and therefore there is certainly no reason for this type of violence."
Regions in Belgium that speak French have a 10pm. curfew until 6 a.m., while in Belgian-speaking Belgium the hours are from midnight to 5 a.m.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Coronavirus (t) Black Lives Matter