Yearly demonstration at the Vottem closed centre: Fury from a few frustrated people

After a long energetic march that gathered hundreds of people on 22/03/2015, and after moving speeches and testimonies, we headed to the grid of the centre where messages of solidarity with the prisoners can be transmitted and where some usually express their fury against these imprisonments.

But not this time: A series of drums had been placed in front of the grid. The drums made a dreadful noise during the whole length of the gathering, preventing any shouting, any slogan or any approach to the grid. We stayed there, as stupid as one can be in front of unexpected situations, saying nor doing nothing…

Here is a little video to show the atmosphere

Were these drums that had been placed in a strategic point a disguised censorship? Or were they a wrong calculation by the people with the best intentions who had not understood that there were prisoners behind these grids, and that people had come there to express their outrage with the detainees, and not to listen to the drums masking all the messages that each and everyone wanted to share?

Bands (such as samba) in demonstrations are often very helpful: for the atmosphere, the motivation, diversion… and this because the bands pay attention to the people surrounding them, intensifying and feeding the different actions and reactions. Unfortunately, this principle apparently didn’t inhabit the steady drums’ band who wanted to show off until the last demonstrator had left the place, not leaving a single space for anger, for exchange with the prisoners or even among the demonstrators. It was called to stop playing to listen to the speeches and testimonies foreseen by the organisers, but when the demonstration could have taken another step, where it would have been possible to enter in contact with the detainees, to show solidarity and rage, a group of brave troubadours interfered to play a role that is usually played by henchmen!

Little by little, people left, some probably very happy that everything happened smoothly, others very frustrated because they were not allowed to express themselves. The chemical fire engines etc left the place, happy to be released so quickly, happy that they could count on very efficient show and order intermittents.

From inside the centre, text and distress messages went on.

Text message:
Thank you to all, but here no detainee could do anything because the guards threatened us with solitary confinement if we dared say anything. 

Inside: repression and threats; outside: censorship. 

The grid that the drummers prevented us to reach had already been mistreated several times (for the last 16 years during gatherings against the closed centre) , even broken after strong shots by noisy demonstrators. This grid will remain the symbol (or target?) of this demonstration despite censorship and sabotage.


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