Police unions plan national demonstration after fatal stabbing in Brussels
There will be a "national demonstration" in Brussels on 28 November to denounce violence against the police, Belgian police unions have decided Friday morning. The demonstration was prompted by the attack on a police patrol Thursday in the Brussels municipality of Schaerbeek in which a police officer was killed.
In a pamphlet, police unions state that violence against the police is unacceptable and demand more respect for the police, including from the Belgian federal government and the country's Justice department.
Joeri Dehaes of the Christian trade union ACV Politie called the deadly stabbing "a cowardly, deliberate murder". His first reaction was one of disbelief, the unionist says. "First you think: 'Again?' because it's not the first time something like this happened. But it gets worse when you hear about everything that happened before the attack."
On the morning of the day of the fatal stabbing, the suspect had presented himself at a police station in the Brussels municipality of Evere, where he made a confused impression, spoke of hatred for the police and asked for psychological help. A prosecutor's office ruled that the man could not be forcibly admitted to a psychiatric unit because he sought counselling voluntarily. Instead, the police took him to the psychiatric ward of a hospital, which he ended up leaving.
The man had spent several years in prison in the past and was on the list of Belgium's Coordination Body for Threat Assessment (OCAD).
"The perpetrator was known for radicalism, extremism, he had followed a trajectory in prison, he came to offer himself ...," Dehaes said. "And then the public prosecutor says it couldn't do anything. That defies all imagination. That is too crazy for words."
The unionist also calls for more respect from the Belgian federal government, referring to a previously agreed pay rise that was partially reversed and the phase-out of an advantageous police pension scheme by 2030. "Stop the attacks on the police," Dehaes said.
Police union VSOA also responded sharply after "yet another case of violence against the police in the Brussels Capital Region" and lashed out at both Belgium's government and justice system.
Police officers at the scene of a fatal stabbing incident in the Brussels municipality of Schaarbeek, Belgium, on 10 November 2022 © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT