Friday, December 02, 2005

Night of the Marches

Fri 02/12/05 - A conflict broke out between police and left wing demonstrators in Leuven on Thursday night. A planned march by an extreme right student movement sparked off rioting in the historic University city centre.

Some 400 members of the extreme right, Nationalist Student Movement, NSV, turned out for a march against the 175th anniversary celebrations of Belgian independence.

This was preceded by a 600 strong counter protest by militant left wing demonstrators, earlier in the evening, objecting to the planned march.

Peaceful demonstrations were planned by both sides but, as the organisers themselves had to admit, they could not keep everything under control.

Trouble broke out when a faction of the left wing demonstrators started to run amok, throwing glass and stones and carrying out various acts of vandalism. A cat and mouse game then developed and clashes with both the right wing marchers and the police ensued.

Some windows and doors were broken during the resulting scuffles. One police officer was injured after being hit by a projectile.

Rioting also broke out at the railway station.

The rear window of a bus carrying NSV members was smashed with a cobble stone while paint was hurtled towards the vehicle.

Peace was restored by the police who upheld a strong presence to prevent further clashes between right and left wing factions.
I had to be there of course.

There was a poster war going the days before the march with posters being put up and immediately being torn down.

The anti-fashist/socialist march:

According to me there were probably up to a thousand people marching, shouting slogans such as "NSV- no!'' bundled with leftist shouting such as "no to capitalism", "no to cut-backs", "no to unemployment" etc.

"CH√Čng the World!"

The whole train of people was reeking of marijuana smoke! There were a bunch of pretty scary looking masked people among them too. Some perhaps belonged to the bunch of radical house occupants here in Leuven that I have heard sometimes clashes with the police. The strong element of radical-leftism and the masked folks kind of put me off from joining this crowd.

The NSV/Separatist/Neo-Facist bunch:

If I had to think twice before not joining the first bunch, there was no such hesitations about the second one. First of all, Flemish separatism doesn't seem to be of my business, and secondly, the Dutch and German skinheads that was sneaking around in the crown looked like pretty mean people. This was one frustrated hateful bunch.

Lots of flag waving. Seemed like every one of them had one.

"175 years of Belgian occupation of Flanders"

Thomas explained that this buy represented the Socialist party leader, but he didn't get the thing with the horse either. The folks with the hats are some NSV students.

Later on there was rock throwing, water cannons, and police shipping off people in busses. We were sitting in a pub not far away listening to jazz, ignoring the speeding police cars outside the window.

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