The Belgian police intervened at the end of the afternoon on May 1 to disperse more than a thousand people who had come to participate in a party in a park in Brussels, despite the ban by the authorities.
On May 1 in the late afternoon, authorities forcibly dispersed a prohibited gathering in a park in Brussels. A dispersal order was given shortly before 6 p.m. on the grounds that the sanitary measures were not respected, announced the police of Brussels. The police then used water cannons and tear gas, causing crowd movements.
We are here to defend our freedom
During the intervention, one person was injured by the jet of a water cannon and two police officers were slightly injured, said the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close in the early evening. There were about fifteen arrests, according to the elected official, while a hundred people were still facing the police in riot gear around 8 p.m.
According to the crisis center, between 1,500 and 2,000 people were present on the lawns of Bois de la Cambre at the height of the rally around 5 pm.
There was a hard core of “700 demonstrators” under the eye of many curious and strollers, qualified an official source with AFP. The gathering had started in a good-natured atmosphere under the sun.
“We are here to defend our freedom. The mask ? No, I don’t wear any more, I want to be free, ”an 18-year-old high school student from West Flanders with his girlfriend told AFP. “It’s been a year since that last. A year that you can’t go out. After a while, you have to find alternatives, ”argued Mex, a 21-year-old Brussels woman, behind a black mask.
As several groups danced around small portable speakers, the tension escalated with the arrival of a police van in the middle of the lawn shortly after 4 p.m.
The cries then burst out: “Liberty, liberty!” Then the detonations of firecrackers and the throwing of projectiles pushed the vehicle to turn back.
Launched on social networks, the invitation to “La Boum 2” echoed a first gathering which had surprised by its size and degenerated into incidents on April 1, the water cannons having responded to the throwing of projectiles against the police.
Result: more than 600 police officers had been mobilized against this prohibited gathering because of the anti-Covid measures in force.
Facebook removed the page announcing the event on April 29
Throughout the week, police and prosecution have repeated that the participants risked prosecution. At the request of the authorities, Facebook had withdrawn on April 29 the page announcing the event organized by the collective “The Abyss”.
“Do not fall into this trap, it is a trap,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo had launched on April 30, calling for a press conference not to go to Bois de la Cambre. “This kind of events are organized by some with the aim of destabilizing”, had accused the Flemish liberal leader.
Protest demonstrations against the restrictions took place in several other Belgian cities, notably in Liège, where a march brought together a thousand people.
Belgium had on May 1 2,707 hospitalized Covid patients, including 854 in intensive care, according to official data. The pandemic has killed 24,230 people in this country of 11.5 million people.