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Brussels: COVID restrictions protests turn violent

December 5, 2021

During a protest against coronavirus restrictions in Brussels, police used water cannons and tear gas. Authorities estimate 8,000 gathered, far fewer that the 35,000 a few weeks ago.

Police in Brussels used tear gas and water cannons
Police used tear gas and water cannons to quell protestersImage: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Police in Brussels used tear gas and water cannons Sunday against protesters angry over coronavirus restrictions.

According to early police estimates, 8,000 people participated. By the afternoon, police called for the demonstration to be disbanded on Twitter and warned of arrests.

Demonstrators take part during a rally to protest against Belgium government's measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 and mandatory vaccination in Brussels
Protesters are angry about Belgium's restrictions and mandatory vaccination proposalsImage: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

EU in the line of fire

AFP reported protests were halted outside EU headquarters by a barbed wire barricade and a line of riot cops. Protesters reacted to two drones and a helicopter overhead with fireworks and beer cans.

Belga news agency reported people fired projectiles and fireworks at police. Protesters held signs that said, "Stop vax" and "Freedom" as protesters in riot gear stood by.

Some parents in the crowd feared the vaccine would have harmful effects in their small children.

Off duty firefighters lead protests

Off duty firefighters opposed to vaccination wore their uniforms as they led the protest snaking through the city.

In Belgium, the measures to fight COVID-19 were decided at the national and regional level, though protests have targeted EU institutions.

Two weeks ago, clashes between protesters and police occurred after 35,000 people turned out to protest against restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Brussels.

ar/jsi (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)