Belgium: Police on horseback trample woman while dispersing social gatherings
BRUSSELS, Belgium, April 7, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Riot police in Belgium knocked a woman unconscious while attempting to break up a gathering violating lockdown rules in a city park using water cannons and horses, shocking video footage shows.
Summit News reported that as many as 5,000 people turned up to a fake event at Bois de la Cambre park following a Facebook post that promised a music festival featuring famous acts and boasting “eight stages, a hundred DJs and zero coronavirus rules.”
As things stand, Belgian authorities have deemed it illegal to gather in groups of more than four, rendering the faux festival a breach of current lockdown rules. Mounted riot police were deployed to the scene to disperse the crowds, using water cannons, tear gas, and police dogs.
At least eight attendees were reported to have been injured, two of whom were hospitalized, as well as several police officers and their horses. One officer was pictured apprehending someone while bleeding from his head.
A video uploaded to Twitter shows the moment that one of those hospitalized was crashed into by a police horse. In the midst of the gathering, mounted policemen can be seen charging in, careering into a seemingly topless woman and knocking her to the ground where she subsequently lies unconscious, before being quickly attended to by fellow revelers. The video shows that the woman had her back turned to the approaching cavalry before being struck:
Mounted police in Brussels knocked a woman to the ground yesterday when they were trying to clear out thousands at a gathering at the Bois de la Cambre park. Social gatherings are currently banned in Belgium due to COVID-19 restrictions. pic.twitter.com/yG3YgURyQM— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) April 2, 2021
Local news outlet De Morgen claimed that the clash between police and partygoers continued for many hours, until at least 8 p.m. Police vehicles skirted the perimeter, announcing from loudspeakers that “the police will proceed to disperse the premises, all people will be liable to receive a ticket.”
Local police told the media that they were taking a soft approach, despite the many social uploads of clashes between attendees and authorities. “We work mainly on respecting [policing] the bubble, mutual distance and the face mask,” police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said.
“Officers will talk to people to explain what we expect from them. That is rather sensitization. Only when we notice that the measures can no longer be observed due to the crowds, we ask the attendees to leave.”
Keere added that “the most important thing” police considered “is that the situation does not degenerate into parties.”
Mayor Phillipe Close of Brussels confirmed the possibility of criminal proceedings, telling Belgian media firm DHNet: “I will do everything possible to ensure that they are prosecuted. And I will send them the invoice.”
Close also posted a condemnation of the gathering on his Twitter page, saying “people need to be outside [the park] … we cannot tolerate such gatherings in the Bois de la Cambre.”
“We therefore evacuated the forest,” he said in reference to the heavy-handed police presence. “Those who fail to obey police orders run the risk of arrest and prosecution.”
According to DeMorgen, those responsible for setting up the practical joke event, a group known only as “Boumer,” have distanced themselves from any liability. “To be clear,” they said, “we have not organized anything.”
Continuing, the group said their “only goal was to make people laugh. We are not calling on anyone to come to the Bois de la Cambre specifically for La Boum [the name of the fake festival]. It does not exist.”
“We haven’t done anything wrong, have we? If we had organized a festival or a party, then yes. But this is no more and no less than an April Fool’s joke,” they defended.