BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Around 350 Belgian police officers protested in Brussels on Friday saying they were tired of constant criticism and being “spat on” in public after demonstrations against police racism and brutality in the United States turned global.
The officers, some in uniform and all wearing face masks, lined up in front of the central court house in Brussels and dropped their badges and handcuffs on the ground.
“This is not the United States. This is not the same thing. We have to stop generalizing and permanently bashing the police,” said inspector Vincent De Clercq, one of the protesters.
The killing of unarmed Black American George Floyd by police on May 25 has led to weeks of global protests and prompted a rethink about discrimination in many countries, including Belgium.
De Clercq said Floyd’s killing was scandalous but added that, while a few Belgian police officers might have to be fired for holding racist views, the majority were doing a good job.
“They are tired of being spat on from morning to night,” he said.
Belgian police said on Wednesday they were investigating an incident in which a Black member of the European Parliament said she had been pushed and grabbed by four police officers after she began to film police harassing two young Black people outside Brussels’ Gare du Nord station.
A police spokeswoman denied any violence had been used in that incident.
Writing by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Gareth Jones