Agora Brussels Day 4
On the official program exposed in the hall it reads that October 12 is declared to be the global day against capitalism. For this reason, lots of workshops and debates and forums were organised. All of them had an indication of an aula next to them and a time, as I could read on the day’s program in the cafetaria. Not a single demonstration was planned, or any other type of action.
When I looked through Belgian newspapers lately to see what they said about the indignados I first had to wade through five pages speaking about Dexia bank being in trouble and in need to be saved with public money. So yesterday a plan was born. And this morning in the Cafetaria it got rolling. The troops from the march were anxious to do something. Our new headquarters has a claustrofobic effect on them.
After breakfast the Intelligence commission calls a reunion in the offices of Direct Action. We are about ten people, all Spanish guerilleros. I know everyone, and I confide in it that none of them are infiltradors. I tell them our objective. Dexia headquarters. And I tell them why, when, and what we need.
We divide the work to be done. Mobilise the Art commission to make banners and slogans, contact the Legal commission for back up, contact Communications. Everybody is to meet back here at three thirty, details are not to be disclosed. I myself go in town to do reconnaisance.
Dexia headquarters is one of the tallest skyscrapers of Brussels. Rrom Revolutionary HQ it is located all the way down the Leopold II avenue at Rogierplein. If we march straight down there it is likely that we will be intercepted by police before we arrive.
We can walk an alternative route through a popular quarter around the Gentse Steenweg, but in any case we will be under direct surveillance.
Between three thirty and four everybody is back in Direct Action, the group has swollen to a couple of dozen people. I explain the various possibilities. The metro is probably the best option. It’s only three stops down the line, and the exit at Rogierplein is directly facing the entrance of the skyscraper. What’s more, there is no police visible on the square, and there doesn’t seem to be tight security at the gate.
We lose precious time talking about the details and the possible legal consequences. When I cut short, the metro is the only option, because if not we risk to arrive there when it is already closed.
We go, we take the metro, and everything works out as planned. After the actions in Paris, the people who were there have faith in my planning, in my capacity to guide them directly into the bank’s headquarters. Once we’re there we declare the building to be property of the people.
The walls of the lower level are complete made of glass. For this reason we brought a pack of printing paper, felt pens and tape. When two security guards timidly remind us that we can’t do this, we are already tapping the glass with slogans towards the outside. Passers by and employees descending into the hall look at us surprisedly before they return to their personal worries.
In minutes the first police cars arrive. When the officers are inside, they start to force us towards the exit, together with the goons of security. Some of us are treated in most unfriendly manner, and when they verbally protest they are thrown to the ground and handcuffed. One of them, comrade Marianne, receives a deliberate kick in the face. We will denounce this. We are peaceful, and any unprovoked agression against us will not be tolerated. In the end, six people remain inside on the floor while all the others from the outside are shouting. “Liberez nos camerads! Liberez nos camerads!”
We have at least three camera’s filming between the curious who have gathered. The pavement is covered with slogans in chalk, the windows are covered with papers facing inside this time.
A small police van arrives to take our comrades away. We vigil the exits. It takes time. It seems the police is not convinced to arrest them. They start to negotiate. One of them comes up to us, outside the bank.
“I know that none of you is responsable. But I have an offer. Can I discuss it with you people?” There are five of us around him. The offer is that they let our comrades go if we promise to leave, quietly, to the university.
This time, common sense has triumphed. The group gathers. We accept. Our comrades are liberated, we embrace, and off we go.
We didn’t keep our end of the deal, it’s true. Automatically we walked off in the opposite direction, along the boulevard. On the other side of the road there was another Dexia building, and it was funny to see that police vans immediately drove up there to block their entrance. We cheered and we waved to them. “La police avec nous!”. We had our action, and now we decide to go into town.
When we cross the street, a sympathetic looking police officer in civilian outfit asks us where we want to go. Comrade Roberto responds. “We are going to Agora Square in center, to hold a Popular Assembly like we did yesterday.”
“Very well. But you cannot pass here. This roads leads to a no go area.”
I look at the map, and I know why. It passes by the royal palace. The police officer indicates us the next street to the left. “It goes directly to Agora Square. I will take you there.”
In Brussels they always send Flemish speaking police officers to speak to us. They know that many of us are French or know that language, but through their headphones they speak in Flemish. For this reason I like to eavesdrop on them.
“They know perfectly well that I’m from the police”, our guide says, talking to central command, “but they haven’t shown any sign of aggression. They want to go to Agora square, and they accept it that I take them there. Over.”
He leads us past the Belgian National Bank. I pass the word to the group. He turns to me, in French, “This institution doesn’t signify anything anymore. It’s only a symbol. The real power is with the ECB in Frankfurt now.”
I respond in French, there’s no need to reveal that I can understand him in his professional communications. “If the central bank is useless, we could occupy this building and do something interesting with it.”
He chuckles. “I don’t think they would let you.”
We arrive at Agora square and we gather under the Tree of Liberty. The action went well, we are content. It has been very good for our morale. We are only a little bit disappointed that the desktop revolutionaries we had been trying to contact didn’t get off their ass to join us.
As for the police, they are clearly much more diplomatic here in Brussels. They leave us space to play our game. They don’t want trouble, and it’s better that way. If not, it might seem that we are just looking for confrontations with them. But that’s not the issue. The police are part of the ninety-nine percent. Our goal is to denounce the use of public money to save the banks that caused the crisis.
On the way home, we are already planning a comunicado. A very simple one. We call on all indignados, everywhere, to occupy banks that were saved with public funds. They are property of the people.