In the latest sign of the deteriorating security situation for the police and the public in Belgium, a policeman in civilian clothes was attacked by dozens of young people late Monday afternoon near Jacques Franck Square in Saint-Gilles, in the Brussels Region, 7sur7.be reported.
The policeman, in his thirties, was walking quietly in the street when he was recognized by a group of approximately 40 “young people” in the multicultural Saint-Gilles district. The victim was beaten mainly in the back with sticks, crutches, and baseball bats, a spokeswoman for the area said. Local merchants intervened to save the policeman, who is now unable to work for seven days.
Un policier en civil lynché par des dizaines de jeunes alors qu’il rentrait chez lui à Saint-Gilles (B) pic.twitter.com/pHdkmyJthe
— Pierre Sautarel (@FrDesouche) May 4, 2021
According to Nieuwsblad sources, the beating may have been in response to the police intervention at the unauthorized “La Boum 2” event on Saturday. At the event, police arrested 132 people and used water cannons against the participants. Police have also been active arresting drug dealers near the square where the off-duty police officer was attacked.
However, the Flemish newspaper notes that the neighborhood has been facing violence for years, mainly because of two rival gangs. And the tension has risen further in recent days. Police officers have also been targeted by gangs in the Saint-Gilles district in the past.
An investigation into the targeting of the officer has been opened, the office of the Attorney General stated. None of the attackers has so far been arrested.
“Totally unacceptable. Police officers, like everyone else, should be respected during and after duty. These scandalous acts damage the image of Brussels. The people of Brussels do not deserve it. Relieved because the person concerned is doing relatively well,” tweeted Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.
Title image: Police attempt to disperse gatherers at the Bois de la Cambre park during a party called “La Boum 2” in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police put on extra patrols Saturday to monitor the gathering which is being held in defiance of Belgium’s current COVID-19 regulations. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)