(Headline USA) Police fired water cannons and thick clouds of tear gas Sunday in Brussels to disperse people fighting COVID-19 vaccinations and government restrictions.
Police said the protest in the Belgian capital drew an estimated 50,000 people, some traveling from France, Germany and other countries to take part.
Protesters yelled “Liberty!” as they marched.
A much smaller number of demonstrators marched in Barcelona.
The protests followed demonstrations in other European capitals on Saturday against vaccine passports and other requirements that European governments have imposed on people who they don’t see as responsible adults.
A protest leader broadcasting over a loudspeaker yelled, “Come on people! Don’t let them take away your rights!” as police officers faced off against demonstrators who hurled projectiles and insults. “Go to hell!” shouted one protester wearing a fake knight’s helmet with a colorful quiff.
Brussels police said 70 people were detained and three officers and 12 demonstrators required hospital treatment.
Some protesters attacked a video team covering the march for The Associated Press, pushing and threatening the journalists and damaging their video equipment. One protester kicked one of the journalists and another tried to punch him.
Nearly 77% of Belgium’s population has been fully vaccinated, and 53% have had a booster dose, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Belgium has seen more than 28,700 virus deaths overall.
In downtown Barcelona, protesters wore costumes and waved banners reading “It’s not a pandemic, it’s a dictatorship,” as they marched against against restrictions imposed by both national and regional authorities.
Very few participants at the Barcelona protest donned face masks, which are currently mandatory while outdoors in Spain.