Belgium: News in brief against the maxi-prison in Haren and anti-prison struggle elsewhere

Bomb threat against the three buildings of the European Parliament in Brussels that were evacuated due to a suspicious vehicle, February 2nd 2015.

This text was originally published in French by Contra Info, March 2015. The following news round-up is the second in a series of translations by Person(s) Unknown Publications, as part of a new brochure in the making on the struggle against the maxi-prison in Haren, Brussels:

January-February 2015

Descent of cops to “the Passage” – On the 14th January at 7:30pm, a pack of cops were stationed in Anderlecht (Brussels) in front of the Passage, local to the struggle against the maxi-prison. On the square next to it, two unmarked wagons waiting. Is this related to the uncontrollable demonstration that took place in the streets of the neighbourhood earlier today? Did they want to put pressure on the public discussion scheduled that evening entitled “Direct action against the maxi-prison”? Regardless, after half an hour the pack moves on, the discussion takes place after a delay. After an hour of discussion, three vans and two cop cars with the police commissioner return in a flash. We then rush towards the door to prevent them from entering. They finally manage to break in with a crowbar, then take the identities and search certain people present, not without some varied and diverse resistance. Nine people who refuse to give their identities are also embarked upon, and the room is searched. After an identity control at Démosthène police station, all those arrested are more or less rapidly released, and overhear that the pretext was because the cops were looking for items related to “attacks” committed the same day against “an architectural office”. If the sudden intrusion of over a dozen boys in blue into our immediate environment is always unpleasant, rather than to moan, this will only strengthen our will to fight against the maxi-prison and those who want to build it.

Wild demonstration in Anderlecht, construction company of the prison attacked – Wednesday 14th January, it was not cold everywhere… An uncontrollable demonstration warmed the streets of Anderlecht (Brussels) a little. At around 6pm, a flare is lit, some tags are quickly made, and around thirty people take the street behind banners against the maxi-prison, identity controls and police raids. Leaflets are distributed along the route. At Clemenceau metro station, the cash machine of a bank is broken. At the intersection of the streets Clémenceau and Clinique, dozens of windows of the VK Engineering office are attacked; who are involved in the construction of the new prison in Beveren, collaborating in the planned construction of the maxi-prison in Haren, as well as the new prison in Dendermonde. The procession then dispersed, a little too late.

Incendiary devices found in front of an architectural office – In Leuven, two unexploded incendiary devices are discovered in front of the architects Jaspers & Eyers. The offices as well as the surrounding streets are evacuated. The Bomb Disposal Unit use their robot to neutralise the devices. Jaspers & Eyers is the largest architectural firm in Belgium, who have worked on the construction of new prisons, the new headquarters of the federal police, and various offices of big companies.

Bomb threats galore – In recent weeks, more than 35 bomb threats or false suspicious packages have interrupted business, causing evacuations and closures of companies and institutions. In the cross-hairs: various parliaments, the European Commission, the Palace of Justice in Brussels (three times), the courts of Charleroi and Dendermonde, shopping centres, a youth prison in Ruiselede, specific stores such as “Primark” in Liège or whole zones such in Sint-Pieters Leeuw, the pharmaceutical complex of GlaxoSmithKline, and of course from the local police to the base of the federal police and its new headquarters in Brussels. The police denounce these false threats and indicate that some unknown individuals were knowingly depositing suspicious packages, such as at the federal headquarters in Etterbeek (Brussels), where a box is placed 2.5 meters high.

Escape from a detention centre – In mid-February, twelve people escape from a detention centre for undocumented migrants in Bruges. In the evening, while some undocumented inmates of the detention centre in Bruges (located next to a command post of the Federal Police) simulated a brawl in order to divert attention, others broke two windows in the “living room”. Then they attacked the fences, chemically anchored structurally, which they managed to remove. As the room is on the first floor, the twelve prisoners descended with the help of knotted sheets. Finally, they climb one last fence before disappearing into the wild.

Rain of Molotovs against the police in Laeken – On the night of New Year’s Eve in Laeken (Brussels), a police patrol is pursuing two youths who start running. The patrol repeatedly tried to run down the youth. Before even arriving: they crush the leg of the youth Abdelamine (19) against a wall. Taken to hospital, the doctors decide to amputate their leg. Another sad episode in the series of police brutality and murder. Tuesday 6th January 2015, around 8pm in the evening, dozens of people gather to remind the police that this mutilation, the official lies that followed, and atrocious comments made by police officers mocking the fate of Abdelamine will not go unanswered: stones and petrol bombs rained down on the police station in Laeken. Inside were three cops. The damage remained limited however. With the arrival of reinforcements, the attackers dispersed. Eight people were arrested during a sweep of the area, with one person later released after standing before the prosecutor.