Anti-lockdown protests turn violent in Belgium

About 8,000 people came to protest the Belgian government's coronavirus measures.
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Belgium anti-covid protest
Lockdown protesters, Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 05, 2021
(Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Thousands of protesters in Brussels, Belgium, marched Sunday against the government's new vaccine mandates before police fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The demonstration began peacefully, but near the end a small group wearing "black hoods" chanting "liberte" (freedom) began to throw fireworks and stones at police officers, according to Reuters. Demonstrators also lit barricades of trash on fire.

The protest was against masks, lockdowns, and vaccine passes, the latter of which are required by Belgian law to enter restaurants and bars.

One Belgian protestor told Reuters "I can't bear discrimination in any form, and now there's the vaccine pass which is discriminatory, sanctions for (unvaccinated) carers which are discriminatory too, there's mandatory vaccination which is heading our way… That's all discrimination, so we have to fight it. We don't want a dictatorship."

Agence France-Presse reports two officers and four protesters were hospitalized, while 20 people were arrested.

While 8,000 people marched Sunday, protests in Belgium last month were much larger, drawing a crowd of about 35,000.