Death of a 23-year-old black man in police custody sparks BLM protests in Brussels

Police arrest 116 at protest over death of black man in custody

By Lois Barker
Sub-Edited by Jasmine Wing

More than 100 people have been arrested after protests in Brussels over the death of a black man in police custody.

The Brussels prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation into “involuntary manslaughter” after the 23-year-old Black man lost consciousness at a police station shortly after being arrested. He later died in hospital. He has now been identified as Ibrahima B, by the lawyer representing his family, Alexis Deswaef.

Ibrahima lost consciousness soon after being taken into the police station for questioning and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The family of Ibrahima was told their son had died of a cardiac abnormality and that this “would not be the sole cause of the death.”

Hundreds of protestors gathered in Leeds square in central Brussels. Demonstrators are said to have thrown stones and projectiles while police deployed a water cannon.

They also set fires, vandalised a police vehicle and at one point threw rocks at the car of the Belgian monarch King Philippe when he was travelling home to the Palace of Laeken from his offices in Brussels.
Some demonstrators carried Black Lives Matter signs and shouted, “We want the truth.”

Responding to the protests, General Commissary of the Federal Police Marc De Mesmaeker said: “We can understand that emotions are running high… but the way in which the was done is completely unacceptable.”
He accused protesters of committing acts of “vandalism” and said that five police officers were wounded in the unrest.

Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said on Twitter: “We cannot in any way accept what happened today… The rioters will not get away with impunity.”

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