Brussels without the EU. It’s a hell of a thought, particularly for the tens of thousands drawn to the city, to work for European political institutions and business. So omnipresent are Union offices and buildings that, for most visitors to the Belgian capital, they are the city. Never mind the medieval architecture, the longstanding immigrant community, and the beer and fries. Brussels is now about steel and glass buildings, salads, and multilingual Europeans in suits, riding Brompton folders.
For proponents of European federalism, it’s an acceptable exchange, on behalf of a unified continent. If not this, then what? Twentieth century Europe, with its two world wars? No thanks. A sanitized, upper middle class city, populated by idealist bureaucrats, is a far cry from the murderous nationalism and the social engineering of the Nazi and Communist periods. Let the rest of the EU cry diversity. In Brussels, conformity is always in the service of peace.
That is, if one buys the federalized Europe equals neutrality bit. Not far away from the EU district, and its satellite residential neighborhoods, Brussels, albeit Belgium, survives. The poster and translation below, documenting the city’s ongoing struggles with law enforcement and prison construction, is one such example. It is a perfect testimonial to the lie that ‘European’ Brussels often broadcasts about itself, as a place of fulfillment and happiness, as satirized in the lead photograph, above. [Click to enlarge]
Solidarity with those accused of attacking the Marolles police station!
Friday, 1 October, a spirited protest against detention centers, prisons, borders and the state was expected at the Gare du Midi in Brussels. The State did not give consent and militarized the entire area. People were arrested at the station and its surroundings, armed cops with machine guns were strategically posted in Anderlecht and several anti-riot units were mobilized to protect the Forest and Saint Gilles prisons. A ban on assembly was enacted in half of Brussels and the police were sent onto the streets to enforce it. A few hours after the scheduled start, dozens of people attacked the Marolles police station located five minutes from the Gare du Midi. The police station and some police cars were vandalized and two policemen were wounded. Later in the day, four people were arrested and charged with the attack. They are now being detained in Forest Prison awaiting trial.
We fully support the attack for which they are accused because it was rational. We affiliate ourselves with it. Not only because we have always been anti-cop but above all because it is part of a long struggle in Brussels, in which more and more people are attacking that which seeks to crush, exploit, control and imprison them. This tension can be felt across prisons and detention centers throughout the country. The fight against detention centers and prisons in recent years, and especially the demonstration planned for 1 October, has emerged in the context of this ongoing tension. Through our solidarity we will never forget those that the state takes from us. On 1 October, people were ready to take to the streets for what they believed in and to fight against that which makes their dreams impossible. And the people will continue to do so. We will continue to do so.
This is because our dreams shape our struggle. It is our dreams that will save our imprisoned companions from their confined isolation.
We will not settle for less than a world without prisons and detention centers. We will continuously fight anything that makes freedom unattainable.
Translated from the French by Kit Rickard. Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.