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Police Break up Brussels Anti-Lockdown Party

Brittany Jordan

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BRUSSELS—Police fired water cannon and tear gas in a Brussels park on Saturday to break up an anti-lockdown party of several hundred people designed to defy coronavirus social distancing rules.

The crowd of mostly young people responded to a post on Facebook announcing the unauthorised party. It took place a month after police cleared 2,000 people who gathered in the same Bois de la Cambre park for la Boum (the party), an event that had begun as an April Fool’s joke.

The follow-up Boum 2 event on May 1, a traditional day for demonstrations, was held a week before the Belgian government allows cafe and bar terraces to open and lets groups of more than four people meet outside in relaxation of COVID-19 rules.

Police use a water cannon against protestors at the Bois de la Cambre park during a party called “La Boum 2” in Brussels, on May 1, 2021. (Olivier Matthys/AP Photo)
Belgium anti-lockdown protest water cannon
A man is doused by a water cannon during clashes as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park for a party called “La Boum 2” in defiance of Belgium’s CCP virus disease (COVID-19) social distancing measures and restrictions, in Brussels on May 1, 2021. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo urged Belgians on Friday to stay united and not “fall into this trap”. Facebook also took down the Boum 2 post on Thursday after a request from Belgian prosecutors, who warned partygoers they risked being detained or fined.

Police said several hundred people still attended.

Emile Breuillot, a 23-year-old dental student, said he had come to see people enjoy themselves and to defend their rights to gather.

Epoch Times Photo
A woman hands a flower to a police officer as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park for a party called “La Boum 2” in defiance of Belgium’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) social distancing measures and restrictions, in Brussels, Belgium, on May 1, 2021. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

After a calm start with groups chanting “freedom”, the police announced on social media that attendees were not observing public safety measures and that they would intervene. Many people were not wearing masks, a requirement anywhere in public in the Belgian capital.

Hundreds of people also marched in central Brussels and through the eastern city of Liege demanding a relaxation of coronavirus measures.

By Clement Rossignol and Philip Blenkinsop

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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