Following riots on the beaches of Blankenberge, Belgium, police arrested 20 suspects who are all part of an African youth gang from Brussels and are well known to the police and the judiciary, sceptr.net reported.
On Saturday afternoon, heavy riots and clashes broke out on the beach of Blankenberge. Videos and images show how a large group of immigrant youth surrounded the police and attacked them with umbrellas and sticks. Nine officers were injured during the incident. The incident made national news and ignited debates in the Belgian media about migration and its effect on public safety in the country.
? De multiculturele “verrijking” bereikt nu ook ons kust ? pic.twitter.com/Jf7hIuh1z7
— Tom Van Grieken (@tomvangrieken) August 8, 2020
“Sun umbrellas and beach beds were tossed around, and wind sail sticks were used as weapons,” said a female manager of a nearby bar on the beach.
— Based Belgium ?? (@based_belgium) August 8, 2020
The violent incident allegedly began with youngsters provoking locals by playing loud music and challenging them to try to do something about it.
The police reinforcements had to be called from Bruges and even coastal police were forced to become involved. Pepper spray and batons were used to calm the crowd. Even the lifeguards, who protected themselves with trays from a beach bar, got caught up in skirmishes.
“Fight on the beach of Blankenberge. Police and ambulances have been coming and going for an hour,” said one of the many posts on Twitter.
— Niels Vander Velpen (@NielsVDVP) August 8, 2020
In the end, 20 rioters were arrested, the Blankenberge police confirmed. Police confirmed that those arrested are from a well-known African youth gang from Brussels, and they are no strangers to the police and the judiciary.
“All names are well-known to the police,” the police stated. Many of them also have previous criminal records.
Since the arrest, 17 rioters have been released again. They received an official report and might be prosecuted later. The remaining three are detained and will be brought before an investigating judge.
Mayor shaken by rioting
“I think this is terrible,” said Mayor Daphné Dumery. Following the incidents, the city of Blankenberge decided to close to tourists on Sunday. According to the mayor, the city needs a time-out.
“Only residents, second-time residents, multi-day overnight tourists, and people who work in our city will be admitted. Police checkpoints will be set up along the approach roads. Anyone who arrives in Blankenberge will, therefore, have to have a valid reason to gain access to the city. With this measure we try to restore peace,“ he explained the measure taken.
Most major newspapers failed to mention the role of immigrants in the rioting on the beach, with papers like GVA referring them to “French-speaking youth” and columnist Bart Tommelein describing the rioters at Ostend as “young people from the Brussels region” while De Morgen referred to them as “rebellious beachgoers”. The Knokke police department referred to them as a “target audience we don’t usually see“.
Jurgen Ceder from Scepter, a Belgian news portal Sceptr, writes that authorities are terrified to name who was involved due to political correctness. Following the riots on the beach, authorities placed a blanket ban on day trippers from visiting the beach, which he said was effectively punishing every Belgian citizen who wanted to use the beach during the country’s heatwave.
Since the riot at Blankenberge, other cities in Belgium have been rocked by similar incidents. On August 11, about 50 young people are said to have been involved in riots on Sint-Anneke Plage, the Antwerp beach along the Scheldt.
On August 12, another fight broke out on Ostend between two families, which was quelled after police arrived. Video of the fight was posted to Twitter.
— Fré ? (@frecq) August 12, 2020
On Aug. 12, the police were also forced to expel a large contingent of immigrant “youths” for acting aggressively from the Blaarmeersen amusement park located at a beach in Ghent, according to De Standaard. The group refused to wear masks and were hitting other people in the park with a football. Despite a number of warnings, the group refused to comply with calls to stop their behavior.
Title image: In image made from video provided by VTM, a man is detained by police, centre back, after a skirmish on the beach in Blankenberge, Belgium on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. It started as a Saturday trip to the coast, a chance to escape the heat wave that’s settled over Belgium and forget coronavirus restrictions for a while. As the tide came in, the beach got crowded. Someone complained about the music being too loud. Things degenerated fast. Within minutes, dozens of people were battling it out on the sand, some throwing bottles and umbrellas at police. (VTM via AP)