Record number of demonstrations in Brussels during 2019

The Brussels-Capital-Elsene Local Police Service was responsible for policing more than 1,000 demonstrations in 2019. This is a new record for the service that is responsible for policing in the City of Brussels and the municipality of Elsene. The number of demonstrations on its patch has been increasing steadily over the past ten years. 

The Brussels-Capital-Elsene Local Police Service’s Spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere told VRT News that “In 2018 we had just less than 1,000. However, in 2019 we easily exceeded this”.  

Ms Van de Keere added that the number of demonstrations has been increasing steadily over the past decade. “There are various reasons for the increase. Brussels is our capital city so it is loigical that national demonstrations take place here. In addition to this Brussels is also the capital of Europe. There are demonstrations each time that there is a summit. Finally there are a lot of embassies and (international) institutions in Brussels. Political comments made abroad often lead to demonstrations outside embassies or institutions. During 2019 the many climate demonstrations came on top of this”.    

Ms Van de Keere added that the police in Brussels are well-prepared to police such a large number of demonstrations. Furthermore, this can be done 7 days a week.

Those wishing to stage a demonstration must send in a written request at least 10 days in advance. Not all requests can be approved, due to other policing commitments.   

"Sometimes our diary is full, for example on 22 March when the Cup Final is being held in the King Boudewijn Stadium. It is logical that on that day no demonstrations can be allowed to take place”, Ilse Van de Keere told VRT News.

"However, we are normally able to agree an alternative date with the organisers”, the police spokeswoman concluded.

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