Extinction Rebellion has urged Brussels’ police and mayor Philippe Close for an ‘appropriate reaction’ to the movement’s planned demonstration during a Christmas event on Brussels’ Grand Place on Friday, which has not been approved by the police.
The demonstration, described by the movement as “short, peaceful, creative performance in the heart of our capital under the eyes of the world’s tourists”, 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.
The group has been in contact with the police over the last couple of weeks, but has not received permission for its performance. However, as the Extinction Rebellion movement is based around civil disobedience, asking the (local) government permission for its protests is contradictory in itself, said the organisation in a press release.
“We did not go to these police discussions to ask for any kind of permission, but simply to present our plans as we have made them. We highly value openness in the organisation of our national actions and performances, and are willing to take responsibility for them. Among other things, we have discussed security and the police have even suggested changes to our text,” said Christophe Meierhans, a spokesperson of the movement.
“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.
The decision that mayor Philippe Close has to make is not whether or not this performance can be allowed, but what an appropriate reaction will look like, the organisation said, alluding to the police reaction to a protest at the Place Royale on 12 October, when they used tear gas and water cannons on the protesters.
The Brussels Times