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Extinction Rebellion protest peaceful but 75 arrested
Police arrested 75 protestors at the weekend who were taking part in the Extinction Rebellion actions in Brussels. About 300 people took part in several actions planned by the environmentalist movement on Saturday afternoon, including in Rue Neuve and at the Bourse.
“We are at a tipping point in history,” said the organisers in a statement, referring to both the coronavirus crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement. “We don't want to rush back to normal. We need to pause and reflect on what our real needs are for the future. Do we want to go back to a system based on fossil fuels, industrial agriculture, exploitation of people and structural racism? Or do we want a resilient future that acknowledges the urgency of the multiple crises we are facing?”
The group handed out fliers in shopping street Rue Neuve while counting to 416, the global level of CO2 in the atmosphere in parts per million. Later in the day, they moved to the Finance Tower in the business district of Saint-Josse. Earlier in the week, members had removed the letters that spelled “finance” at the entrance the tower and on Saturday replaced them with the word “resilience”.
“This enormous glass tower houses the vital ministries of Finance, Health and Migration,” said the organisers. “By changing its name from Finance Tower to Resilience Tower we urge our governments to move away from a single focus on the wellbeing of our economy towards the wellbeing of all people.”
Everything went smoothly and peacefully, and the arrests happened only when the group headed up Boulevard Pacheco, intending to deliver their placards to the prime minister’s office on Rue de la Loi. That is a no-go zone for protests.
Police blocked their way on Pacheco and gave the few hundred protestors present a choice: Get their ID cards checked and disperse, leaving their protest signs behind, or stay and get arrested. About 75 chose to be arrested. They were all released in the course of the evening.
Photo ©Antony Gevaert/BELGA