The fictitious event, called La Boum (the party), announced on social media that it would have “eight stages, one hundred internationally renowned DJs [Calvin Harris, DJ Snake e Skrillex entre eles] and zero rule against coronavirus ”. Anonymous organizers made it clear that this was an April 1 joke, “which aims to scoff at certain measures taken in the context of the coronavirus pandemic” – but thousands of people confirmed their interest.
Asserting that the joke was dangerous, in late March the Brussels Public Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation to identify the organizers of La Boum. The Brussels administration also issued statements saying the festival was “fake and unauthorized”.
To contain the contagion of Covid-19, Belgium has already banned the meeting of more than ten people outdoors and, since last week, reduced the limit to six, due to the increase in the number of new cases.
The police again warned on Wednesday that the event was just a joke and that it would be in the park “to prevent any illegal meetings, in case some people try to go to the party anyway”.
But the holiday in the spring in the northern hemisphere, with blue skies and temperatures above 20 ºC, attracted thousands of people to the park, who, in the absence of a festival with DJs, had their own party. The TVs and social media showed a crowd of young people dancing and partying.
When the police arrived, around 5 pm (local time, 12 pm in Brazil), many refused to disperse and started throwing bottles and other objects at the agents, who responded with water cannons, pepper spray and tear gas.
The mounted police also intervened, causing a rush. Images showed regulars being hit by horses and others bleeding after the fighting. At around 6:30 pm, the mayor of the city of Brussels, Philippe Close, wrote in a social network that agglomerations “will not be tolerated” while the country is struggling to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“Anyone who does not follow police orders is at risk of being arrested and prosecuted,” wrote the mayor, who thanked “people who have followed the rules for more than a year” and the police “for the hard work”.
At 7:30 pm, the police office said four people were arrested and three police officers were injured. There was no information on the number of injured patrons.
For this Friday, another unauthorized event was also called, L’Abîme (the abyss), in the Cinquentenário park, close to the European Commission.
Unlike the La Boum festival, in which the hoax was explicit, the organizers say that the party aims to safeguard the “vital need” of young people to celebrate “in a park, outdoors”.
“We claim our right to come together as informed and free citizens. It is one of the pillars of our Constitution, of our fundamental freedoms. Our humanity ”, says the call.
“We just want to party like it’s the last time. As if tomorrow we could succumb to a virus that came out of nowhere ”, they say, adding that they do not want” excesses “or” disorders “.
As of Thursday night, 3,000 Internet users had shown interest and 968 had confirmed their presence. Brussels police asked people to disclose the warning that the event is not allowed.
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