Hi-Viz protests: disruption expected in Brussels

Brussels is bracing itself for today's protests by the Hi-Viz movement that has spilled over the border from France.  Protesters are unhappy with fuel hikes, taxes and the general rise in the cost of living.

It's unclear how many protesters will take the trouble to come to the Belgian and Flemish capital, but Belgian police are prepared. Police spokeswoman Ilse Van de keere promises a massive police presence, but unlike in Paris no events are being cancelled.

Last week's protest ended in violence.  Protesters ripped up paving stones and road signs and hurled them at the police.  Two police vans were set alight. This week activists took to Facebook to invite lorry drivers and farmers to join the protest.  Police are drawing lessons from what happened last week and will be present in uniform and plain clothes.

Ms Ilse Van de keere hopes the arrest of 82 people last week will put a damper on attempts at violence today.  Belgian police will not follow the hard example of their Paris colleagues: "We will set to work differently than in Paris.  If people protest peacefully, we will offer them the space to do this.  If people have other intentions, we will intervene."

"All planned events can go ahead.  We would like to agree with peaceful Hi-Viz protesters a place where they can protest without causing disruption."

Border crossings with France are already experiencing disruption.  The crossing at Hensies has been closed by protesters. In France Hi-Viz protesters are blockading the E40 motorway just over the French border for drivers coming from Jabbeke.

Police also expect disruption to traffic in Brussels.   The police will monitor the situation and provide information via Twitter as soon as traffic disruption materials to ensure people can find alternative routes.

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