Germany/Belgium: Video footage puts police violence in the spotlight


Two recent incidents of police violence in Germany and Belgium have been compared to the case of George Floyd in the USA. In the first, mobile phone footage circulated on social media showed a police officer placing his knee on an individual's neck. In the second, footage from inside a police station at Belgium's Charleroi airport, published by a newspaper, showed a police officer sitting on a detainee's rib cage for 18 minutes, whilst another officer performs what appears to be a Nazi salute. The detained man, Jozef Chovanec, subsequntly died in hospital.

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Germany: Outrage over video of officer placing a knee on man's neck (DW, link):

"Authorities in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said on Sunday that they were investigating an incident of possible police misconduct after a video surfaced on social media showing a police officer placing his knee on a suspect's neck.

During the video, which lasted 15 seconds, people at the scene could be heard shouting at the officers, demanding that they release the suspect.

According to the Dusseldorf police report, the incident took place on Saturday evening, when officers were called to the city's old town to handle a raucous crowd near a restaurant.

After the group was rounded up, a young man who was not involved in the incident but was at the scene allegedly interrupted the operation.

Dusseldorf police said the suspect then assaulted the officers, had to be restrained and was subsequently sent to the station for identification. He was later released.

The video caused outrage on social media, with many comparing it to the case of George Floyd, an African-American man who died when a Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes.

The incident will be investigated by a different police department to ensure neutrality, officials said. In this case, the responsibility will fall to the police department of the nearby city of Duisburg."

Outrage in Belgium after video reveals George Floyd-style police savagery (EurActiv, link)

"Belgians are shocked after TV channels on Wednesday (19 August) aired a videotape showing how the police treated a Slovak citizen at the Charleroi airport, in footage that echoes the savagery to which George Floyd fell victim in the US.

Slovak citizen Jozef Chovanec was arrested at Charleroi airport more than two years ago, after causing disturbance on a flight.

The video, which has no sound, was recorded on 23 February 2018, and wasn’t known to the public until it was published by the Flemish daily Het Laasste Niews on Wednesday (19 August).

It shows Chovanec in his prison cell. He first bangs his head on the wall of his cell, until his face gets covered with blood. Then several policemen enter the room. The footage shows an officer sitting on Chovanec’s rib cage for 18 minutes. Another is filmed laughing during the incident. A female officer makes a Nazi salute.

Chovanec was taken to hospital, but fell into a coma and died the next day, officially of heart attack.


The investigation on the police officers’ behaviour is still ongoing. The female officer giving a Nazi salute was reportedly dismissed from the police corps effective from Thursday."

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