Militant group Free54 plans to take action throughout the summer to denounce the commercial expropriation of public spaces in Brussels. The group opposes, among other things, the expansion of restaurant terraces in the city center.
The first action took place at the beginning of July on St. Catherine’s Square in the center of the capital, with nearly 400 people participating, according to Free54. A second date was scheduled for Friday at 6:00 p.m. The aim is to bring together and mix Brussels youth, sympathizers and locals to dance, decompress and have a drink against a “commercial and less totalitarian vision of Brussels public space,” the society explains.
Free54 was born after expanding the stands in the same arena. “In 2015, the stands suddenly extended to St. Catherine’s Square with the support of the College of Aldermen”explains Nils Coppens, a member of the group. “The young and disadvantaged were not taken into account. In fact, a deliberate exclusion from public space was organized in this way. And this is with our tax money.”
The group demanded that the terraces disappear from the square and that public seating be re-installed. The place was 14th in 2015, as opposed to a handful nowadays. Restaurant terraces around the square currently occupy half of the space.
Moreover, it was also said that the municipal authorities lied because, according to the activists, the promise that the local economy would benefit from the expansion of the stands was not kept. “We see that the value added by the stands has led to local restaurant managers doing deals with big chains and local investors no longer have room to build something themselves.“, concludes Nils Coppens.
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