Brussels court deals blow to Extinction Rebellion over autoshow protest
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Brussels court deals blow to Extinction Rebellion over autoshow protest

Protesters staged a die-in, poured fake blood on themselves and climbed on vehicles, with a total of 187 arrests made by police. © Belga

An automobile federation has won a legal case against climate action group Extinction Rebellion (XR) over a protest which saw XR members disrupt an auto show at the start of the year.

In a win to auto federation Febiac, a Brussels court rejected a request by XR to scrap a financial penalty imposed by the federation on participants of a protest at the Brussels Motor Show in January.

The climate campaigners had gone ahead with the protest, during which hundreds of XR members stormed the auto salon, pouring fake blood, climbing onto vehicles and staging a die-in amid attendants of what they referred to as a “Salon of Lies.”

The protest targetted automakers and aimed to call out the industry’s greenwashing of their product in what XR denounced as a repeated attempt to sidestep the urgency of addressing the environmental and climate crises.

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After the protest, 185 XR members were arrested from whom Febiac, one of the organisers of the auto show, ultimately demanded a €10 penalty after initially aiming to slap them with a thousand euro fine over the protest which they said had caused €367,829 in damages.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the court also struck down a request by the climate action group for Febiac to pay €29,000 for “tormenting” and “reckless proceedings,” Het Nieuwsblad reports.

The court also declined to base its ruling on the legitimacy of the reasoning behind the protest, a central request from XR activists in the case.

The ruling represents a setback for the activist group for whom disrupting protests at major industry events has become a trademark action.

XR Belgium members involved in the protest have also been ordered to cover the legal fees for the proceedings, which amount to €2,400.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times