In a short space of time, four JD Sports stores have been robbed and plundered, two of which in Belgium. There may be a connection with a racist incident that took place in October in the Liège store.
On Wednesday evening, the stores in Liège and Brussels were plundered by a dozen youngsters. The same thing happened in Amsterdam on Thursday, and two weeks ago in London. A racist incident in the Liège store may have been the reason: on 23 October, a female manager of the chain is said to have asked her employees to line up in three rows, using the words "Arabs", "Macaques" and "Gwers" (Caucasian people of Western European origin). A video of the events then circulated on social media.
That manager was dismissed in the meantime, Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reports. "We can not tolerate any form of discrimination. Our investigation is now complete, and the manager has left the company", the chain says in a Facebook post.
On Saturday, JD Sports opened a new store in Wijnegem (near Antwerp, Belgium). The police were present en masse as a precaution, but there were no incidents. Activists did show up at the Liège store: La Ligue de Défense Noire Africaine (LDNA), an organisation fighting against racism, organised a demonstration there in solidarity with the employees of JD Sports. The store remained closed.
According to LDNA spokesman Egountchi Behanzin, this is not the first case of racism in the British company, and it is even part of their policy. "This is pure racism, and it is unacceptable in 2019," he says. JD Sports has 800 locations worldwide and is active in 16 countries.