Extinction Rebellion’s unsanctioned Grand-Place demonstration will still go ahead on Friday
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Extinction Rebellion’s unsanctioned Grand-Place demonstration will still go ahead on Friday

The demonstration is set to take place during a Christmas Lights and Sound show. Credit: Pieter Geens/Extinction Rebellion Belgium/Facebook

Despite failing to receive police approval, a planned demonstration by environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) set to take place during a Christmas event in Brussels’ Grand-Place will go ahead on Friday.

The demonstration will coincide with the Christmas Sound and Light Show in the Grand-Place, a UNESCO-listed site which authorities have classed as politically neutral, meaning no protests can take place in the square.

Members of the activist group, known for its use of civil disobedience and public disruption to raise awareness about the climate and environmental crises, was in discussions with the Brussels-Ixelles police zone in preparation for the event, which said on Monday they did not approve of the demonstration, Bruzz reports.

Despite police’s no-go decision, the group are expected to go ahead with the display, described in a press release as a non-disruptive performative act meant to highlight the pressing need for action on climate change as well as to mark the one-year anniversary of XR in Belgium.

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The group said they expected to avoid a police reaction like the one sparked during the Royal Rebellion organised in October —when activists gathered in Place Royale, blocking public transport in the square— which led to clashes with the police, with several reported incidents of police violence.

In order to sneak past police, XR invited participants seeking to join in the action in the iconic main square to come dressed in regular clothing, with no elements which could identify them as potential participants.

“At 8:08 PM exactly, right after the Christmas Sound and Light Show, all rebels present on the square will reveal their presence by performing XR’s ‘Sound Declaration of Rebellion,’ reading the text out loud as one giant collective voice,” the group said in a press release.

Over a thousand people have expressed an interest in the event with hundreds more saying they will attend, according to the event’s page on Facebook.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times