Police fired water cannons and tear gas into a park in Brussels on Saturday to crack down on an anti-blockade party of several hundred people designed to oppose the rules of social distancing the coronavirus.
The crowd of mostly young people responded to a post on Facebook announcing the unauthorized party. It came a month after police cleared 2,000 people gathered in the same Bois de la Cambre park for la Boum (the party), an event that began as an April Fool̵
The ensuing Boum 2 event on May 1, a traditional day of demonstrations, took place a week before the Belgian government opened the terraces of cafes and bars and allowed groups of more than four to meet outside to grant COVID-19 rules.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called on Belgians on Friday to remain united and not “fall into this trap”. Facebook also downloaded the Boum 2 post on Thursday after a request from Belgian prosecutors who warned partygoers that they risked being detained or fined
Police said several hundred people were still present.
Emil Broyo, a 23-year-old dental student, said he had come to see people having fun and defending their rights to assemble.
After a calm start with groups chanting “freedom”, the police announced on social networks that those present did not observe public safety measures and that they would intervene. Many people did not wear masks, a requirement anywhere in the public space in the Belgian capital.
Hundreds of people also marched in central Brussels and through the eastern city of Liege, demanding coronavirus measures.
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