Violence follows the death of 19-year-old man who was hit by a police car after evading checks.
At least 43 people were arrested following riots in the Brussels neighborhood of Anderlecht Saturday night, Belgian media reported.
Violence erupted Saturday afternoon, with groups of young people throwing rocks and pieces of glass at police officers, according to reports. At one point, a man wearing a balaclava fired three shots in the air with a gun that appeared to have been stolen from police, according to RTBF. Police later confirmed a weapon had been stolen and that it is investigating the theft.
The riots followed the death of a 19-year-old on Friday night. The man, identified as Adil, was riding a scooter down Quai de l’Industrie after evading a police check, when he crashed into another police van sent for reinforcement. Following his death, some had issued calls for a rally in protest, despite the current ban on public gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“We didn’t intervene right away,” said Patrick Evenepoel, the head of police for Anderlecht. “We took action when we saw that groups of young people were arming themselves with rocks taken from construction sites in the area.
“Toward 8 p.m., the situation was under control in the entire area,” Fabien Cumps, the mayor of Anderlecht, told RTL on Sunday morning. “There was a new spike in violence, a more limited one, around 10 p.m., with stones thrown at a police station (windows were broken), but this was rapidly repressed by police.”
Adil’s family has been calling for calm and stressed it is in no way responsible for the calls to protest the man’s death, said Cumps.
The people who started throwing projectiles “clearly didn’t come to gather in memory of young Adil, they came to be violent,” Cumps told RTL.
Adil’s death is being investigated by police, Willemien Baert, the spokesman of the Brussels public prosecutor’s office, told the Belga news agency.