Belgium: Death of Algerian in police custody triggers outrage

21st Jul 2020
Belgium: Death of Algerian in police custody triggers outrage

By Agnes Szucs

 

BRUSSELS (AA): The death of a man of Algerian background after being arrested by Belgian police has triggered an investigation, with some members of the public drawing comparisons to the choking death in police custody this May of George Floyd in the US. A footage which was shared on social media appeared to show a police officer kneeling on his back.

Floyd’s death resulted in Black Lives Matter protests in the US and all over the world.

Antwerp police were called on Sunday to a local café to stop a man from allegedly acting violently and attacking other people. The man died later in a hospital.

Eyewitness video footage shows the 29-year-old being held down on the street by two police officers one of who was kneeling on his back,

After going viral on social media with the hashtag #MurderInAntwerp and #JusticeForAkram have been trending in Belgium. the video provoked public outrage in Belgium.

Social media users claimed that the man had been “kneeled to death” and accused the police of racism.

Speaking to the Brussels Times, the woman who posted the video said: “A friend of mine made the video. After he stopped filming, two more police cars arrived, then it got more intense, he says. According to my friend, the man received a face mask, which had blood on it, according to my friend. When they put him on a stretcher, he seemed lifeless.”

Nearly 2,000 people have also signed petition demanding justice for the deceased man.

The prosecutor’s office in Antwerp has launched a judicial investigation into the death.

An Antwerp police spokesperson denied the man had been choked, saying that he was resuscitated for 20 minutes and taken to hospital.

Last month, tens of thousands took the streets all over Europe to show their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in the US. The movement also challenged many European countries’ controversial role in colonialism, including Belgium’s exploitation of Congo.

Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, died in the US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota during an arrest in which an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

[Map of Belgium by Shaund/minor amendments by Peter Fitzgerald/Creative Commons]

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