Here’s what I said about it at the time.
It comes with its own caption: Solvit — Solving Your Problems.
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Handcuffed. Gagged. Arrested.
The image became — with good reason — one of the iconic photos of the fascist police response to the peaceful demonstrators in Schuman Square. Unfortunately, the caption at the Yahoo site where it originated did not name the gagged man, identifying him merely as an “unidentified demonstrator”.
When I went to Flanders last week and met various members of Vlaams Belang, it was a golden opportunity to discovery the identity of the mysterious icon. I asked Bart Debie, a member of the Flemish Parliament and our liaison in Brussels: who was the Gagged Man of Schuman Square? He not only told me the answer, he introduced me to the fellow in Antwerp after the event at which Robert Spencer spoke.
So there he is, on the right in this photo, with Bart Debie standing next to him.
His name is Luk Van Nieuwenhuysen, and he is the Deputy Speaker of the Flemish Parliament. He’s a very engaging fellow who speaks English with a distinct cockney accent. And here’s his story:
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The account of the events surrounding Mr. Van Nieuwenhuysen’s arrest in Schuman square on September 11th is quite inspiring. Bart knew all the details, because he was one of those who were arrested, handcuffed, and put on the infamous police bus.
Bart used to be a policeman himself, and still has contacts among the Flemish police in Brussels. About a half an hour before the demonstration started, he was tipped by a contact that Mayor Freddy Thielemans had sent out the order to arrest specified prominent members of Vlaams Belang, together with Anders Gravers, the leader of the Danish group SIAD (as it turned out, Anders couldn’t get through the razor wire barricades around Schuman Square, and was never arrested).
So the members of Vlaams Belang knew what was likely to happen. One by one they were rounded up, handcuffed, roughed up a bit, and put on the bus.
Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang, decided to sabotage the police by stealing the keys of the bus and throwing them out onto the street. He successfully pulled the keys from the ignition, but in the process of getting his hand out through the closing doors he lost his grip on them, and was unable to throw them away. His empty hand was thrust through the closed doors and then beaten by a police baton in the famous video sequence.
After everybody was on the bus, Bart — drawing on his experience as a policeman — told the other passengers how to get out of the plastic handcuffs, and all the prisoners had their hands free within a few minutes.
As the bus rolled away from the square Bart, once again relying on his familiarity with police procedures, told everyone that they could easily open the emergency door at the back of the bus, and described how to do it. When the bus stopped at a traffic light, the prisoners at the back unlocked the emergency door. Before the guards could close the door again, three or four prisoners escaped, and ran off down the street to freedom.
Luk Van Nieuwenhuysen was one of the escapees. He made his way back to Schuman Square, rejoined the demonstration, and was not arrested again.
This story is entertaining and inspiring, but is also a compelling allegory for what was happening in Brussels while we were there, and is now starting to happen all across Europe.
Ladies and gentlemen, the handcuffs labeling you as “racists”, “Nazis”, and “Islamophobes” are simple to remove and discard.
The door of the PC Multicultural bus unlocks easily, and invites you to jump off and escape.
The solution is simple. It’s right in front of us.
It’s just not quite the solution we expected.