An April Fool’s Day game ended badly this afternoon (1st) in one of the busiest parks in Brussels. Thousands of people flocked to De la Cambre after the announcement of a bogus music festival and were dispersed by mounted police, causing a stampede and leaving people injured.
The fictitious event, dubbed La Boum (the party), announced on social networks that it would have “eight stages, a hundred internationally renowned DJs [Calvin Harris, DJ Snake e Skrillex entre eles] and zero rules against the coronavirus ”. Anonymous organizers made it clear that this was an April 1 joke, “which is intended to poke fun at certain measures taken in the context of the coronavirus pandemic” – but thousands of people have confirmed their interest.
Claiming that the joke was dangerous, the Brussels public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation at the end of March to identify the organizers of La Boom. The Brussels administration also issued statements claiming the festival was “bogus and unauthorized”.
To contain the contagion of Covid-19, Belgium has already banned the meeting of more than ten people in the open air and, since last week, reduced the limit to six, due to the increase in the number of new cases.
Police again warned on Wednesday that the event was just a joke and that it would take place in the park “to prevent any illegal meeting, in case some people try to go to the party anyway.”
But the spring holidays in the northern hemisphere, with blue skies and temperatures above 20ºC, drew thousands of people to the park who, in the absence of a festival with DJs, threw their own party. Televisions and social media showed crowds of young people dancing and partying.
When the police arrived, around 5 p.m. local time, 12 noon in Brazil, many refused to disperse and started throwing bottles and other objects at the officers, who responded with water cannons, pepper spray and tear gas.
Mounted police also intervened, causing a stampede. The footage showed regulars hit by horses and others bleeding after the fighting. At around 6.30 p.m., the mayor of the city of Brussels, Philippe Close, wrote in a social network that agglomerations “will not be tolerated” as the country struggles to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“Anyone who does not follow police orders risks arrest and prosecution,” wrote the mayor, who thanked “the people who have been following the rules for over a year” and the police “for the hard work” .
At 7:30 p.m., the police station said four people had been arrested and three policemen were injured. There was no information on the number of injured clients.
For this Friday, another unauthorized event was also referred to as, The Abyss (The Abyss), in Cinquentenário Park, near the European Commission.
Unlike the La Boom festival, in which the hoax was explicit, the organizers claim that the festival aims to safeguard the “vital need” of young people to celebrate “in a park, in the open air”.
“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 don’t want“ excess ”or“ mess ”.
As of Thursday evening, 3,000 Internet users had shown interest and 968 had confirmed their presence. Brussels police have asked people to disclose the warning that the event is not allowed.