A total of 48 ‘Indignados’ from Belgium, Spain, Italy and France, were arrested at the Elizabethpark in Brussels after refusing to leave. They had the intention to camp there until Saturday October 15, when held on ‘International Agora’, the first international meeting of ‘indignados’ from different countries.
The arrests began scribbling a day with the highest expectations, being the culmination of the march that started in July in Madrid and Barcelona to take up the capital of European society’s indignation against the current political and economic system and creating a climate of “respect and dialogue between the system and society,” said “Indignado” Spanish Juan Gallego. Riot troops evicted hundreds of “Indignados” mostly Spanish, but also Italian, Belgian and French, that last night arrived with the intention of camping for a week at the Elizabethpark, situated in the Brussel district of Koekelberg, about two kilometers away from the historial center of the capital.
One of the coordinators of the protest in Brussels, Julián García confirmed that the “Indignados” have been in contact with the police and the Koekelberg local government for more than a month to obtain all the necessary permissions to carry out the camping. Besides, they we willing to maintain the park in “good conditions”. These negotiations took place “in a normal way” says the superintendent of Brussels, Johan De Becker, until yesterday received notification that the permits had been denied.
The two big groups of ‘Indignados’ from Madrid, Barcelona and other parts of Spain and France arrived to the park around 19.30 hours after 1600 km on foot during two and a half months. There they were warmly greeted and cheered by around 400 people among relatives, friends and Belgian “Indignados” with great enthusiasm, applauses, hugs and songs in Spanish and French. The first thing they did was setting up the tents, around 30 of them. Upon arrival at the park, the Belgian police informed them that camping was not allowed because it is a “protected area” and reminded them the offer held by the municipal authorities to accommodate them at a nearby builiding during the night and giving them still the possibility to return to the park during the daytime to conduct the activities as planned. The biuliding was one of the faculties from the Catholic University of Brussels (KUB ), now in disuse and put on sale, but still with the basic services of water, electricity and heating.
The newcomers then had the dilemma of accepting the offer of the government and stay in the old university departments or reconfirm the initial idea of ??camping outdoors. They started an assembly to discuss about this matter around 21:00 hours under the moon light and over the mud. The Commissioner Becker reminded them that they could not camp in this public space, and they should take their tents off. Besides, at 22:00 hours everyone should be on the premises offered, the faculty, for such is the deadline for making noise in the streets of Brussels.
Shortly before 22:00 and after receiving some complaints from the neighbours about the noise in the area, came to the Elizabethpark around 100 riot police, that waited quitetly until the assembly finished, around 23:00 hours. After two hours there was no conclusion, so unable to decide, they chose to leave freedom of choice. Then, most of the “Indignados” went to the premises but about 50 people sat down and showed his intention to spend the night there.
Then, agents reacted and began the eviction of those who were seated, while their colleagues, about 250 people, were trying to avoid it struggling and once there were in the police vans, standing in the road so they could not move forward. There were people with mild bruises and one person slightly injured by a dog bite.
Around 23:15, after the most reluctant ones were taken by the police and after countless comings and goings of members of the “Indignados” group to De Becker, the police balance ended up with 48 arrests and thirty tents confiscated. On their way to the police station, most of the voices were screaminig in Spanish but there were as well some of them in French.
It ended up as an “administrative detention” of up to 12 hours long with no penalty fare. The “Indignados” had been already in touch with two Belgian lawyers to handle these arrests and facilitate their release, which took place today at 9:00.
Coordinator Julián García, laments how the night ended and hopes the incidents are not repeated again. He expects they can carry out the week of meetings and workshops planned from today, with the participation of “Indignados” from different European countries. It also remains to discuss the statement that the European Deputy from the Left Party Willy Meyer, launched on the day before of the march arrival, offering the “Indignados” the opportunity to go to Parliament to discuss their complaints. “It has not been the only proposal we have received up to date, says Julian Garcia, but it is something we have to carefully discuss on the following assemblies”.
At the moment the “Indignados” are based at the faculty due to bad weather, but they are still deciding where to spend the following nights and expect to perform all planned activities, including debates and workshops for the week. Although they do not currently have any permissions, they will still be in contact with the authorities and it is still on the plan the press conference scheduled for next Saturday at the Elizabeth Park. The final aim is to celebrate on Saturday the ‘International Agora’, the first international meeting of ‘Indignados’ from different countries, a general mobilization march that will take place in Brussels under the slogan “united for a global change.”