Police prevention work thwarts Brussels rioting
14 November 2005
BRUSSELS — A week of intense police prevention work and a quick response thwarted the a call for rioting in Brussels over the weekend.
From the start of last week, rioters were being urged via the internet to assemble in Brussels city centre to run amok on Saturday.
Local police from Brussel-Elsene and nearby zones deployed 300 officers to maintain law and order. A distinct police presence was felt in the city on Saturday.
Federal police dispatched water canons and a helicopter, and federal riot police were also placed on standby, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported.
Groups of youths started gathering on Saturday night and headed at about 8.30pm in the direction of Henri Mausstraat, where they vandalised cafés by throwing tables and chairs.
An estimated 80 troublemakers were involved in the unrest and police intervened immediately. About 50 youths were arrested in the vicinity of the stock exchange.
It remained relatively quiet elsewhere in Brussels, also in ‘risk city districts’. The fear that the unrest around the stock exchange area was a diversionary tactic for riots in other city districts did not pan out.
“The prevention measures have worked excellently in the past few days,” police spokesman Johan Verlije in the zone Schaarbeek-Sint-Joost-Evere said.
“Social workers have been able to convince the youths to not get carried away. Our patrols have scarcely experienced any tension in difficult districts.”
However, two buses, five cars and several rubbish bins were torched.
Four suspects — including a minor — were arrested in Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe on allegations they set fire to a bus. Police arrested them after the youths were allegedly seen filming the fire with a mobile phone.
The film also showed the suspects talking about how they had started the blaze, police said.
The public prosecution office is also investigating an arson attack on a truck on the Colruyt in Vilvoorde.
Some 15 arrests were carried out across Brussels. Two of the detainees were minors and all of the youths arrested were Brussels residents.
There was no indication of unrest being sparked from outside the city and certainly not from French hooligans.
The inflammatory language found on the weblogs has already disappeared.
Specialist computer crime federal police officers are now tracking down the authors, but the public prosecution office has refused to comment further on investigations.
The Interior Ministry’s national crisis centre and Brussels police said there were no indications that an organisation was responsible for the calls to riot.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news