Thousands converge on Brussels park for hoax event despite strict lockdown restrictions

Police in Belgium have resorted to using tear gas and water cannons to break up an illegal event that saw thousands converge on an already crowded park.

The event, which turned out to be an April Fool’s joke, attracted around 2,000 people to La Bois de la Cambre park, according to local police, but local media placed the number at closer to 5,000.

The event, ‘La Boum’ (which is French for ‘The Party’), was announced on Facebook in March and promised appearances from world-famous DJs Calvin Harris and Daft Punk, according to Reuters, with nearly 20,000 people indicating they would attend.

The event’s organisers revealed it was a hoax days before it was set to take place, but that didn’t stop revellers from showing up anyway, with some making an appearance to protest the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Hundreds of police converged on the park, forcing people to leave using tear gas and water cannons.

Reuters reported that at least two people were injured in the incident, including a woman who was knocked over by a police horse. Furthermore, four people were arrested and three policemen were injured.

“We are all depressed. I’ll be 18 in two weeks, we want to take advantage of our youth,” high school student Amelie, who attended the event, told Reuters.

“We came not to annoy the police, but to show that we also have a life and want to enjoy it.”

Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said he understood people wanted fresh air but gatherings such as this would not be tolerated.

“We evacuated the wood. Those who do not obey police risk arrest and prosecution,” he tweeted.

Belgium entered its third COVID-19 lockdown about a week ago, with outdoor gatherings limited to four people.

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