Extinction Rebellion activists charged nearly €2,000 each for Autosalon invasion

Extinction Rebellion activists charged nearly €2,000 each for Autosalon invasion
Protesters staged a die-in, poured fake blood on themselves and climbed on vehicles, with a total of 187 arrests made by police. © Belga

The organiser of an auto salon in Brussels will claim damages of nearly €2,000 from each of the hundreds of Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists who stormed the event at the weekend.

Automakers federation Febiac, who organised the auto show, said the environmental action group's display at the event had caused a whopping €367,829 in damages.

As a result, the federation said it would slap each of the 187 arrested protesters with a €1,967 bill, with the activist group saying they would resist the demand, citing their right to protest.

On Saturday, hundreds of XR demonstrators 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."

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The activist group said their action on the busiest day of the event was targetted at the automotive industry, which they called out for greenwashing and for failing to provide acceptable solutions to the environmental and climate crises.

"New, large, powerful individual cars, whether powered by petrol, electricity or whatever type of energy source (...) are in reality one of the balls and chains holding us back," the group said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Febiac said that the activists, who had announced the action ahead of time, had not stuck to the guidelines provided to them by organisers.

"We sat together with people from Extinction Rebellion for the salon, we told them they could hold a demo, sing songs and hand out brochures," Joost Kaesemans of Febiac told Het Nieuwsblad.

"But we also told them that if they bothered visitors and wreaked havoc, we would take measures. They did not stick to that, so there are consequences," he added.

The federation on Saturday said that there had "never" been more hybrid or electric vehicles on display at the auto salon, which drew some 450,000 people up until its final day on Saturday.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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