The Brussels Journal sends a link to this video (Windows Movie format) of today’s demonstration in Schuman Square. It’s on Vlaams Belang’s own site, so maybe it will stay up for a while — unless the Belgian authorities have a way of interdicting it.
It’s quite disturbing to watch. A normal middle-class guy, looks like a businessman, not being violent or confrontational, gets really roughed up by the police.
Welcome to the EU! The Future is Now.
Update: A Flemish reader writes with his account of the video:
The video appears to start with the police taking away individual protesters, while some in the crowd jeer “Fascisten! Fascisten!” — apparently not at the protesters, but at the police.
First, the necessary caveat… the video is from the Vlaams Belang website, and it shows some editing at the end (slo-mo repeat of one scene). I also haven’t a lot of time to analyze the audio, so please bear with me…
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The video shows what the party wants you to see, so let’s assume for the sake of argument that it doesn’t show things they don’t want you to see. Even so, the raw video is not exactly complementary to the police… and Flemish TV station VRT has an interview with journalist Goedele Devroy (in Dutch) which confirms that the demonstration was peaceful and did not march from A to B — both conditions which she says the police had required for them to “tolerate” the proceedings. (Click on the second link to the right of the picture.)
She then expressed mild astonishment (my words, subjective) that the police used the level of coercion and violence that they subsequently displayed, and she marvels, wonders why they would so obviously create political martyrs to a cause the City opposes. She then has a back-and-forth with the anchorwoman (Martine Tanghe) who is anxious (she’s a notorious lefty) to establish that “there were only a few demonstrators”. They are talking only about the Schumann Square demo, though.
I don’t know who the first man is who is wrestled to the ground (elderly, in raincoat) but the second man (younger, light tan suit) is Frank Vanhecke, party leader of the Vlaams Belang. As he is packed onto a police bus, he asks “Is dit Democratie? Is dit vrije meningsuiting” [is this democracy? Is this freedom of speech?] Apparently the police are not amused so they drag him back off the bus to handcuff him; the voice in the background says something in Dutch — I can only make out the word “wet” (law), and in French “reculez — laissez-nous travailler!” [back up — let us work!”
In the next scene, a man with an earpiece and camera pushes a young man back towards the crowd. I can’t make out everything he says because of the background noise, but I can make out “Geen pers! Pers? Gij zijt Vlaming? OK, gij gaat achteruit.” [No press! Press? You are Flemish? OK, you’re backing up.] The man with the auditory spaghetti appears to be a “security operative”, for lack of a better term — he could be local or federal policy, or possibly “Staatsveiligheid/Securité d’État” which is a paramilitary outfit. In the meantime, Vanhecke is being “helped” back onto the bus.
The next man we see arrested and put on the bus is Filip Dewinter (Vlaams Belang member of Parliament). I can’t make out what anyone’s saying because of the barking dogs, but the bus is somewhat overloaded and Dewinter’s arm is sticking out between the doors, for which he gets his wrist smacked with a baton.
Today we are all Flemish separatists.