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435 arrested at Extinction Rebellion protest in Brussels
Police used tear gas and water cannon on Saturday to expel several hundred climate protestors who had defied a ban on demonstrations and gathered around Brussels' Royal Palace.
The protest had been called by environmental activism group Extinction Rebellion. The organisers had wanted to occupy the palace grounds for at least 24 hours to "invite the king to declare a state of climate and ecological emergency in Belgium".
The palace is located within what is called Brussels' "neutral zone" - around federal political institutions - where demonstrations are banned. Extinction Rebellion described the protest as "an act of deliberate civil disobedience".
"We are very happy with the turnout," said activist David Steeman. "About 1,250 people had registered to attend and a large number of them are here."
Some 113 people were arrested for attempting to approach the palace gardens. By the evening, 435 administrative arrests had been made in the vicinity. All those arrested were freed within a few hours.
Extinction Rebellion, which was born in the UK, claims 2,000 members in Belgium since its launch in January. The group said other large-scale non-violent actions would follow.