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Four held on suspicion of arson, rebellion after Belgium protest over Black man’s death

Protesters throw stones in Brussels at the end of a protest Wednesday over the death of a Black man in police custody.
Protesters throw stones in Brussels on Wednesday at the end of a protest over the death of a Black man in police custody.
(Francisco Seco / Associated Press)

Four people, including two minors, remained in custody Thursday after a Brussels demonstration over the weekend death of a young Black man detained by police turned violent, the prosecutor’s office said.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said three of the individuals held were suspected of arson. The fourth has been accused of rebellion following the Wednesday demonstration, when police made more than 100 arrests.

Police said most of violence took place after the largely peaceful demonstration by about 500 people — some holding Black Lives Matter signs — ended in downtown Brussels.

According to a police statement, 50 to 100 people remained on the spot and threw projectiles, set fires, damaged street furniture and police vehicles. They also smashed a window and a door at a police station. Several officers were injured, the statement said.

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In all, 116 people were arrested, including 30 minors, and paramedics treated one civilian, police said.

Belgian prosecutors have requested that an investigative judge be appointed following the death of the 23-year-old Black man identified by authorities only as I.B. The prosecutor’s office said he was arrested Saturday after he allegedly tried to run away from police who were checking people gathered in the city center despite COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings.

He was taken to a police station, where he fainted, and then was transferred to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the prosecutor’s office said.

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The office said Belgium’s Committee P, an independent body that oversees police, is investigating, and a coroner has been appointed to perform an autopsy as well as toxicology tests. Belgian media reported that the man had started to record the police with his phone when officers decided to carry out an ID check on him.

The prosecutor’s office said it has seized video surveillance images, both from the police station and at the scene of the man’s arrest.


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