Civil Disobedient for more Public Space

Last Sunday, residents of Brussels took the street. This time not to protest against capitalism, budget cuts or privacy issues, but to demand more public space, room for pedestrians and bicycle lanes. With a picnic on one of the central avenues, they blocked car traffic for a couple of hours.

The initiative came from philosopher Philippe Van Parijs (professor at the university of Louvain-la-Neuve and Oxford), who was frustrated by the poor quality of public space and the dominance of car traffic in the city center.  Inspired by a sit-down protest hold in the early 1970 to ban cars from the Grand Place -Brussels historic town square- he wrote an opinion piece (English) in several local newspapers to call for action. And it worked. Last Sunday, around 2,000 gathered on the open space (you can’t call it a square) in front of the Stock Exchange, right in the heart of Brussels.

The demonstrations will continue. Facebook groups have been set up and a second giant Pic Nic is planned for Sunday June 24th from 12 to 14 pm (already 4265 conformations).

Photo by Laurent Vermeersch / Polis Blog