Demonstrators gather regardless of rules in Brussels and Liege
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Demonstrators gather regardless of rules in Brussels and Liege

The carnival parade passing through Brussels on Saturday. © Belga

Despite long-standing rules on large gatherings, demonstrations took place yesterday in Liege and at several location in Brussels.

In Liege, the authorities were expecting trouble following the riots last weekend in the city, when a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration broke up and a group of rioters threw paving stones at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannon. Several shops were looted.

Yesterday, water cannon and mounted police were at the ready after messages were posted on social media calling for new riots. Some 120 people were placed under administrative arrest, on suspicion of having been involved in last week’s troubles. That had the effect of calming the situation.

In Brussels, a colourful carnival parade left from the Marolles, passing through Saint-Gilles to Forest commune, attracting hundreds.

The parade is a tradition in the Marolles district, but this version had not been announced and received no authorisation from the city. The participants appeared to make no effort to respect safety measures like social distancing.

Finally, police decided to disperse the crowd once it had reached Anderlecht, in consultation with the local mayor. Water cannon were deployed to help break up the large crown, and ten people were arrested after attacking police.

Elsewhere in Brussels, 160 people took part in a demonstration at Place Schuman in the European Quarter, against the Rwandan president Paul Kagame and the violations of human rights taking place in the African country. There were no reports of problems.

About 70 people gathered at the Central Station in Brussels to protest against the plans to roll out a 5G mobile network in Belgium, part of an international protest against the technology taking place at the same time.

According to the Brussels police, the demonstration took place without incident.

Earlier in the day a group claiming to be the organisation Extinction Rebellion briefly blocked entry to the Proximus store in the ground floor of the Proximus tower.

The protesters claim 5G will create more electromagnetic pollution.

Finally, several hundred people gathered at the Bois de la Cambre in Brussels to protest against the coronavirus measures in place, which they complain are undemocratic and a violation of freedom.

Here, too, sanitary measures were for the most part ignored, though police declined to intervene to begin with. However later, after the speeches had concluded and many people remained in place, police appealed for the crowd to disperse, which they eventually did without incident.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times