By Nelson Santana
September 3, 2018
On Sunday, August 26, a group of racists high on drugs and alcohol attacked a Black Dominican teenager as he waited to board a train in the Belgium station of Aarschot. What initially started as a verbal assault by two White women culminated into a 35-year-old White male attacker pushing the Dominican minor onto the train tracks. When Leroy Erwin Abraham Encarnación attempted to climb back onto the station platform, his male attacker blocked his passage.
Anyone in a similar situation would try to defend themself. Abraham pulled the man onto the tracks and humbled him with several haymakers. The two White women intervened, attempting to protect their companion. Abraham’s sister is heard in a video yelling at her brother to hit the attacker hard and then asking him to return to the platform.
The Dominican Embassy in Belgium has received praise from the major Dominican newspapers for bringing attention to this incident. Via press release, the Dominican Embassy wrote:
Sin importar la nacionalidad del agraviado, condenamos de manera enérgica todas las formas de racismo, discriminación racial, xenofobia y formas conexas de intolerancia vinculadas al origen de una persona, en este caso menor de edad
(Regardless of the nationality of the aggrieved, we strongly condemn all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance pertaining to the origin of a person, in this case a minor)
It is important to highlight that the Dominican government has stepped in, especially in defense of one of its citizens. However, one must also note the hypocrisy of the Dominican mainstream media since most mainstream or traditional newspapers in the Dominican Republic also engage in the spread of racist stereotypes and xenophobia. Whether via traditional media, social media posts, or "ordinary citizens" serving as mouthpieces for the Dominican government, racist ideologies prevail on the island and also extend to foreign territories. Earlier this year, two intellectuals issued a call against racism in the Dominican Republic.
Belgium authorities mobilized quickly and according to reports, apprehended all attackers. According to the Dominican newspaper Hoy, Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken, stated:
Estamos seguros de que se dará el debido curso a la denuncia presentada por el joven Abraham Encarnación y confiamos en que este tipo de ataques no se repetirá
(We are sure that due process will be given to the complaint filed by the young Abraham Encarnación and we trust that these types of attacks will not be repeated)
Francken’s words may appear to be sincere, except they are not. First, no politician can guarantee that anyone in their country will never be attacked, hence it is both a hypocritical and false statement. Second, Francken has been linked to multiple controversies. Francken attended a gathering that commemorated the 90th birthday of former Nazi sympathizer Bob Maes, who was convicted post World War II for collaborating with the Nazis and who founded the far-right organization Order of Flemish Militants (VMO). According to Politico, referring to asylum seekers, Francken once stated, “There is only one solution: We will lock them up and send them back to their home country, as difficult as that may be.”
Francken has also made disparaging comments against people who do not conform to what he deems male and female social norms.
Given Francken’s track record one can only wonder whether or not this racist incident involving a Dominican is merely a publicity stunt to absolve himself of his true self.