On June 27, we will collectively perform a series of so-called "Freeze" actions in public spaces, standing motionless in public spaces, holding up red and green signs on which we express what we think our society should give up or keep from our current way of life. After two of Freezes in the pedestrian zone of the centre of Brussels, the action ends at the foot of the Finance Tower for a ceremony to rename the "Finance Tower" to the "Resilience Tower".
On June 27, we will converge on Brussels, from the four corners of Belgium, for a collective act of civil disobedience - while respecting public health rules.
On June 27, we will ignore the ban on demonstrations to challenge the way in which our governments are leading the way out of the crisis, to make clear our opposition to a return to the pre-crisis situation and to claim the right to determine collectively what our new normality will be: a society based on respect for global limits, social justice for all, solidarity and resilience.
We will take to the streets to deliver a strong message to the political world, which is preparing to form a new government: the crisis will not be resolved without us. It will be fair, ecological and social, or it will not be!
In the weeks leading up to the action (Acts 1 & 2), everyone is asked to reflect on the key question of the action - what should we give up, what should we keep? - and to create signs on coloured paper, each expressing one of these choices. On one, written in white on a red background, an aspect of our current life that we should give up, and on another side, written in white on green paper, an aspect of our current life that we should keep and/or develop.
On June 27th, in Brussels, we will make a gesture together that expresses the urgent need to stop and redefine the way we think about our future as a society. We will call this gesture the "Freeze": stand motionless in a public space, holding up a red or green sign.
Standing perfectly still for an extended period of time, in the middle of busy Saturday afternoon in the city, we will form a stark contrast to the flow of "Business as Usual", disrupting normal activities and challenging anyone on the move.
With this gesture, we will reclaim public space for political and collective exchange that's been lost with the commercialization of the city, individualism and repression. By holding up our signs, we claim the right to co-determine our future and we call on our fellow citizens, the public authorities, as well as economic and civil society actors, inviting them to a debate on these fundamental and urgent choices.
The action will start in the downtown pedestrian area (see maps) where two collective Freezes will take place. The action will end with a final Freeze at the foot of the "Finance Tower", located on the Petite Ceinture, adjacent to the Botanique, where a ceremony will be held to rename the "Finance Tower" which will as of then be named the "Resilience Tower".
The pedestrian zone is the heart of Brussels' shopping district, always humming with people on Saturday afternoons. It is impossible for the police to block off the area. Participants in the action can move around the site without any trouble, pretending to be there for shopping!
The Finance Tower houses the Ministries of Finance, Immigration and Asylum, Health, Telecoms, and the North Sea. It is an iconic (and, at 130m high, controversial) point in the Brussels skyline. The tower is located very close to the pedestrian zone. The fact that key government competencies, such as immigration and health, are housed under the umbrella of "Finance" is symbolic of the priorities that clearly guide our politics.
By renaming it "Resilience Tower" we will show what the priority should be for a government that is truly acting to preserve the conditions for a dignified life for everyone in Belgium and in the world, now as well as for future generations.
Police update: we don't have official permission from the police for the action because we will be exceeding the maximum of 20 people that is allowed under the current rules. We don't know how the police will react but the are good chances that they will tolerate the action since we are not posing a risk to public health.
On Saturday 27 June, before the action, everyone should be in place at the pedestrian zone. Participants in the action are only identifiable as such when they actually participate in a "Freeze". Before and after, they should blend in with regular Saturday afternoon shoppers going about their business.
The action will consist of 3 collective Freezes that will take place at specific times and places to be announced in advance. The first two Freezes will take place in the pedestrian zone and the fourth will take place at the foot of the Finance Tower.
The first three Freezes will each last roughly 15 minutes during which all participants will remain motionless, holding up their placards. Participants will take care to keep a distance of 5 meters from each other in order to allow for passers-by to circulate in respect of the health measures. There will be plenty of time between each Freeze so that everyone can disperse and quietly move on to the next Freeze.
The third Freeze will give rise to an inaugural ceremony of the new name given to the Finance Tower and will last a little longer, depending on the reaction of the police (see programme of the inauguration ceremony below).
NOTE: During Phase 1 additional decentralized Freezes may take place, organized independently by affinity and local groups. Important: don't start before 15h, since we wont have our teams in place yet. Be aware that the risk of arrest is higher if you do an action with a small group.
- Be present at or around Bourse 5 minutes before the action starts but make yourself 'invisible'
- The action starts exactly at 15h when you will hear someone starting a speech.
- Position yourself in the freeze zone (see map below), take out your placards and make sure you are 5m away from each other.
- Hold up your placard and freeze for the duration of the speech (around 10 minutes)
- After the speech has finished, put away your placards and disperse
- If you see people getting arrested around you, directly stop the freeze, put away your signs and merge with the normal shoppers in the street.n!
- Be present at or around Rue Neuve 5 minutes before the action, pretending to be shopping, and spread yourself in the street according to your postal code (see map below)
- Keep an eye on Telegram, where the exact start of the action will be announced.
- You will hear people starting a count-down, from zero to 416, the current CO2 level in the atmosphere (ppm).
- The others will freeze at 5m distance from each other, holding up the placards and joining the countdown. Don't forget your face mask!
- The freeze ends when we have reached zero. Put away your placards and disperse
- If you see people getting arrested around you, directly stop the freeze, put away your signs and merge with the normal shoppers in the street.
• Freeze 3 : Finance Tower — 17h00
- Keep a close eye on Telegram for instructions on how to best reach the Finance Tower - don't move directly as a crowd from Rue Neuve to the Finance Tower but disperse first
- Position yourself in the area in front of the Finance Tower as marked on the map below. Keep distance from other rebels.
- Freeze, hold up your placards and follow instructions given via the sound system or megaphone.
- In case of high police presence, follow instructions given via Telegram or the sound system or megaphone.
- After the renaming ceremony is finished, follow the instructions on how to walk - one by one, not as a mass - towards the prime ministers office.
NOTE: while in the pedestrian area it should be easy to blend in with the crowd (making it difficult for the police to make arrests) once at the Finance Tower, the situation will be much more exposed. In view of the ban on demonstrations, holding this ceremony in itself represents a strong act of civil disobedience that is likely to lead to mass arrest. Participants who do not wish to risk arrest are advised to stay away from police lines.
Program of the inauguration ceremony
17h00 Welcome and introductory address
17h05 Presentation of the new name
17h10 Speeches (representatives from the civil society introducing their choices for a resilient society)
17h35 Procession to deliver "Our Choices" to the office of the Prime Minister
Detailed instructions for the renaming ceremony will be published here soon!
We expect that when this action takes place, the risk of contagion from Covid-19 will still be very real, and the corresponding health measures will still be in effect. As demonstrations will be, in principle, forbidden until the end of August due to the pandemic, the organisation of this action violates those health measures. We are doing this deliberately because we refuse to allow our demands to be stifled in the name of public health concerns, when much greater risks are being imposed on the population with the reopening of large commercial outlets, and when the greatest danger today, by far, is to take no action at all.
However, it is essential that we do everything we can to minimize the risk of contagion in our actions and to clearly demonstrate that we are very aware and concerned about the well-being of all.
All participants in this action will therefore, without exception, wear a mask covering their mouth and nose and a minimum distance of 2 metres will be observed between participants, as well as with other people present in the public space.
Everyone will also bring plastic gloves to handle any object that might be handed from person to person, as well as hand sanitizing solution.
CAUTION: IT IS IMPORTANT THAT EVERYONE RESPECTS THESE RULES AT ALL TIMES DURING THE ACTION BECAUSE WE DO NOT WANT TO BE ACCUSED OF ENDANGERING PUBLIC HEALTH!
It is impossible at this time to predict how the authorities and the police will react to our action. We will have to stay attentive and adapt to the situation as it unfolds.
Generally speaking, during Phase 1, the idea is to stay on the edge of legality by exercising our right of political expression. Standing still in the public space with a sign is not illegal if you don't obstruct the passage or violate health regulations. We should have the right to do that, even if there are 300 of us. We know that demonstrations are banned at the moment, but we leave it to the authorities to judge where they want to place the threshold of common sense and political censorship!
During the first phase, we therefore avoid arrest. If the police intervene to arrest participants (which will not be easy as we will be scattered over quite a large area in the middle of many other people), we will drop the freeze we are doing and disperse again to meet up at the next Freeze.
During Phase 2 (the final Freeze in front of the Finance Tower) the degree of confrontation with the Police will certainly be higher, as we will no longer be in the pedestrian zone, and there will be no way to disperse in the crowd.
The idea for this final Freeze is to perform our tower renaming ceremony and deliver the signs showing our choices at any cost. If the police decide to prevent us from doing this, it will be at this point that participants who are prepared to be arrested will be called upon to disobey police orders to carry out the action to its conclusion.
Anyone who wishes to avoid arrest should be able to withdraw without too much trouble. We will be in permanent contact with the police and will communicate in real time about this!
In order to maintain communication with all participants throughout the action, everyone is asked to join the Telegram Channel for the action. To do this, simply click this link from your phone. If you don't have it yet, you will be prompted to download the Telegram application. You will then be connected to the channel and we can send you the necessary information! NOTE: this channel works in one direction only, it will only be used to send messages to all participants at the same time. Participants cannot use it to discuss among themselves!
During the action a support team will be available to help with:
- coordination between groups and rolling information as the action progresses
- video and photo documentation
- spokespersons, press and media coordination
- a regen team, stewards, well-being
- support for arrestees and follow-up until you are released
- legal followup
- safe spaces
- police contact
- first aid
Use green and red coloured paper (A3 or larger) and large white paint markers. In this way, you can make signs on the spot, invite passers-by to join in, and easily roll up the sign and disappear into the crowd.
Make your signs large and clear, to be legible for passers-by and motorists, and visible in photos and videos of the event. But remember they will be carried them around and held by one person for the duration of a freeze, so they must be light and portable too.
You could also consider setting up a makeshift stand to allow people to make signs and act as an information point them, etc.