Brussels (dpa) – More than 25,000 people took part Friday in a European trade union demonstration in Brussels against austerity, with the protest at times turning violent, a police spokeswoman told dpa.
A “minority” of demonstrators were acting violently, throwing objects including stones and barriers, and “anything they could find,” said police commissioner Ilse Van de Keere.
The demonstration passed the US embassy, where some protesters were seen hurling stones and firecrackers towards police. The embassy was placed under lockdown.
Police officers used water cannon in the area near the embassy – located close to the royal palace – and around the European Union institutions headquartered in Brussels, according to police and witness reports.
So far, Van de Keere said, there has been only one injury, that of a protester who suffered a self-inflicted wound while attempting to throw a stone.
Belgian broadcaster RTBF described demonstrators marching among a “forest” of red flags, and throwing bins at the police.
The demonstration was organized by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) to protest against austerity measures prescribed in response to Europe‘s economic crisis.
“Austerity is not working. Austerity is causing a mounting social and economic crisis: over 26 million Europeans are jobless,” ETUC leader Bernadette Segol said ahead of the demonstration, demanding “a new path for Europe, based on investments, quality jobs and equality.”
EU austerity measures are expected to prompt a voter backlash in European elections on May 22-25, with large gains expected for extremist and eurosceptic parties.