Police in Brussels are facing a busy weekend this week: nine demonstrations planned, three of which have already been banned by mayor Philippe Close, but are likely to go ahead nonetheless.
First the banned demos: Close has banned in advance the three demonstrations planned to take place in the Bois de la Cambre tomorrow, the now-established venue for opponents of the measures taken to combat Covid-19, who masquerade under the name of La Boum, although the organisers of the original La Boum like to pretend they have nothing to do with subsequent editions.
The other march to have been banned by Close is one in support of fugitive Jürgen Conings, now missing for more than a week after disappearing, heavily armed and promising by letter he was on a mission that might end in his death.
The mission remains unclear, but his presumed victim has spent days and night with is family in a safe house, while Conings has been playing games with police and army, who have used up massive resources trying to track him down.
The previous two editions of La Boum, also in the Bois, ended in clashes with the police, the deployment of water cannon and the fine spectacle of two police horses, robbed of their riders, making their own way home to the stables in Etterbeek.
Also in the Bois, one hour earlier at 15.00, an international demonstration against the corona regulations titling itself grandly as ‘European Demonstration for Freedom & Democracy’ will gather.
The organisers hope to attract 16,000 demonstrators, who will proceed from the park to the European Parliament, which on a Saturday they are likely to find empty. This march, too, has been banned by the city authorities.
Hours earlier, at 09.00 on Saturday, followers of Conings are on call in the park, to build a platform for some reason.
“The demonstrations by Europeans United, La Boum 3 and Als 1 man behind Jürgen are all not allowed because of non-compliance with the corona measures,” said his spokeswoman Maïté Van Rampelberg on Thursday.
Police, as expected, will be out in force.
“We will act appropriately,” said spokesperson Ilse Van de Keere. “We have provided personnel and resources to provide support for the various manifestations.”
Meanwhile other demonstrations are awaiting authorisation. Those concern Kurds, peace demonstrators, Uyghurs, opposition from Belarus and a Turkish charity.
The Brussels-Ixelles zone may also call on other police districts or the federal police for backup.