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Extinction Rebellion plans action in off-limits Grand Place

19:38 05/12/2019

The Extinction Rebellion climate activists are planning another action, this time in Grand Place – smack dab in the middle of the Christmas market. The local chapters of the group plan to gather in the historic square on 20 December.

Like the streets in front of parliament and the square in front of the royal palace – where Extinction Rebellion carried out their last protest – the Grand Place is in the ‘neutral zone’, meaning it’s off limits to protests. The organisation announced, however, that the action would be a 'performative act' rather than an actual protest.

“Our actions, from joining marches to the massive Royal Rebellion, have not woken up our governments yet,” said Christophe Meierhans of Extinction Rebellion. “That is why we turn to the Grand Place, one of the most iconic places of our country, to sound the alarm bell again and announce a second phase of rebellion against the toxic system that is killing our planet.”

The performance, called Second Declaration of Rebellion, will see members of the group “collectively reading out the text of the declaration as a giant choir. We will unite our many voices into one single massive address to our governments, to our businesses, to all citizens and to ourselves”.

‘We’re not asking permission’

The group will begin the action at 20.08, following the sound and light show that takes place in the square every evening during the Christmas market.

Extinction Rebellion’s last protest in October led to clashes with police and hundreds of arrests. The City of Brussels opened four separate disciplinary investigations against police officers following complaints of excessive violence.

The organisation does not expect the same thing to happen this time. “This week we are meeting with police to explain what we are going to do so they know what to expect, so there are no surprises,” Leen Schelfhout of Extinction Rebellion told Bruzz. “Make no mistake, we’re not asking permission. We are a movement of civil disobedience.”

The Extinction Rebellion is a global climate action group, with hundreds of chapters in some 70 countries. It was founded in 2018 in the UK as a “movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse”.

Photo: Extinction Rebellion blocked traffic in the neutral zone last October
©Antony Gevaert/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw