- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Unauthorised 'Carnaval Sauvage' procession goes ahead in Brussels
Between 500 and 1,000 people took part in an unannounced carnival procession through Brussels on Saturday. Members of the Carnaval Sauvage, or Wild Carnival, group started their procession in the Marolles district and carried on to Place de Bethléem in Saint-Gilles, a route of over a kilometre, dancing and wearing homemade costumes.
Despite many attendees not wearing face masks – other than those worn as part of a carnival costume – and with very little social distancing in place, police at the scene did not intervene until after the procession was over when several people were arrested for non-compliance of coronavirus rules and general disorder offences in Anderlecht and Forest.
The Carnaval Sauvage has been somewhat of an outsider in the Belgian carnival landscape in recent years. The participants dress up in homemade costumes, which are often made from recycled materials, and then move through the city dancing.
This year the event’s organisers had not requested permission for the procession to take place due to the pandemic and therefore the carnival, when it happened, was not authorised. Additionally, there was no public call to participate. Nevertheless, some 200 participants congregated at Place du Jeu de Balle to begin this year’s event before making their way through the neighbourhood.
Police did not arrive at the scene until half an hour later but did not intervene, with one officer telling reporters at the scene that they would be monitoring the event.
The procession continued towards Saint Gilles, adding to its numbers along the way. The crowd, by then expanded to between 500 and 1,000 people, then gathered in Bethlehem Square. The gathering was boisterous but non-violent with the police keeping their distance.
It was only after the main carnival gathering had dispersed as night fell that minor confrontations with the authorities began in areas of Anderlecht and Forest.
A decision was made by the local authorities and the police to bring the festivities to a close and after repeated attempts to persuade the attendees to comply with coronavirus measures, the police decided to disperse the crowd.
Ten attendees were arrested in Anderlecht while a further confrontation took place in Forest, in which a dozen people were arrested. All were given the requisite fine of €250 for non-compliance of coronavirus rules.