Feminist protestors arrested in Brussels

A feminist demonstration resulted in the detention of dozens of activists last Saturday.

Were feminist activists detained for their planning of a peaceful demonstration? it’s worth wondering such a question after the ‘Reclaim the Night’ march got stopped, as well as many participanting having to spend a couple of hours at the police station last Saturday.

The ‘Reclaim the Night’ movement is a feminist night march which aims to denounce the sexist violence at night on the street. The 2017 march resulted in disruptions and violence and so the police forces decided to ban the 2018 one. “Last year, the activists suffered from police violence”, explains a person who got arrested and counters the police position of banning the 2018 demonstration.

The collective recounted what happened on Saturday night online, by criticising the repression the demonstrators have faced. The press release explained that people have been pushed to the ground and were searched before getting arrested and taken to the Etterbeek police barracks by minibus and vans.

DemonstrationWe were required to report on our names and surnames as well as we were photographed”, the person added. “Nobody explained us why we were here, there was no dialogue between the policemen and the activists. I don’t even know whether that was legal or not”, she said. “While we stood up at the barracks altogether, the policemen had very sexist speeches and jokes”.

After about 2 hours and a half in the barracks, the demonstrators were taken to Abbaye de la Cambre at about 1.00 am.

The Facebook page “Le poisson sans bicyclette reports on the testimonies and the facts that occurred during the demonstration.

Olivier Slosse, spokesperson for the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles police, pointed out that the “police intervention has been videotaped”. He also explained that “no application for demonstration has been made”, and he regrets that the organisers refused to talk with the police ahead of the march. With regard to the police violence, he advised the participants to lodge a complaint to the police or the ‘Comité P.’, in charge of assessing the police actions.

The feminist collective expressed its disagreement with the idea of applying to have the right to demonstrate, as it finds “extremely paradoxical to ask for a green light to a patriarchal State to be allowed to demonstrate against it”. Although it is highly understandable to ask an authorisation to be granted the right to demonstrate in democracy; a balance could be achieved to avoid police violence. “A couple of weeks ago, hooligans gathered in Brussels. Policemen were standing up around, but did not do anything to avoid or cancel their meeting. And when it comes to non-violent feminist actions, we face repression”, the activist told. It is then worth wondering which demonstration should be banned or not in the Belgian capital.