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#BLM demonstration in #Brussels: We will not condemn this violence

Statementy by comrades of “Bruxelles Dévie” on the clashes during the Black Lives Matter demo on Sunday, June 7, 2020.

Originally published by Brussels Indymedia. Translated by Enough 14. Written by Bruxelles Dévie.

BLM demonstration in Brussels: We will not condemn this violence

Nearly 20,000 people gathered in front of the Palais de Justice in Brussels on Sunday 7 June to oppose racism and police violence at home and abroad. While the rally was a great success, many people accused those considered violent of discrediting the movement and decided to denounce the clashes that took place on the fringes of the rally.

With regard to violence, we consider, as Hélder Câmara [1] says, that there are 3 types of violence. The first is institutional violence, which legalizes, produces and reproduces domination, oppression and exploitation. The fact that the misdeeds of the forces of law and order are almost systematically directed towards precarious and/or racialized populations is one of the expressions of this first type of violence, as is poverty, hunger, and the fact that nothing is done to structurally solve these problems that kill people on a daily basis. The second type of violence, the violence of revolt, is born as a reaction to the first violence, with the sometimes chaotic aim of abolishing it. This gives birth to the last type: repressive violence, which tries to suppress the second. Therefore, it is rather hypocritical to systematically denounce the second violence without putting it into context or trying to understand where it comes from. A striking sentence, heard during Sunday’s demonstration, gives a (very small) glimpse of contextualization: “What, they kill our brothers every day and today we should still remain calm?”.

On the other hand, we felt much less of judgment and distancing from the looting and burning of police stations in the USA. Is it because the shocking images of the death of George Floyd helped us to “understand” these revolts for a moment? Was it because it was happening far away from home? Whatever the reason, the fact that the mobilization is taking place in Brussels pushes many people to insist that the demands, emotions and anger must be expressed gently and peacefully. As if racism is not violent enough here for us to understand that some people express their anger in other ways.
As for the looting of luxury stores that has taken place, it seems interesting to us to ask ourselves the question of the inequalities and conditions in which some people live so that they are forced to loot stores to get what others can buy so easily.

Finally, it is disturbing that many people condemn the clashes because they would harm the cause or cover the message. This implies that the “stop racism” message would have to be expressed in an exemplary way to be heard. And that alone is violent. No one is being asked to endorse, participate in, or even feel completely comfortable with the outbursts. But between that and feeling the need to publicly distance oneself from it, there is a step. And that step is called: accepting that not all people express themselves in the same way, and yet they all come up with the same message: let’s put an end to racism and police violence.

Bruxelles Dévie, June 13, 2020


[1] Hélder Pessoa Câmara (7 February 1909 – 27 August 1999) was a Brazilian Catholic Archbishop. Câmara was an advocate of liberation theology. He did social and political work for the poor and for Human Rights and democracy during the military regime.

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