Mounted police officers charged at and trampled park-goers before turning water cannons on them as thousands of revellers packed a park in Belgium for a lockdown-breaching festival that was arranged as an April Fool’s joke.
Clashes erupted as police attempted to clear the Brussels park, with several officers and their horses and at least eight party-goers injured.
Footage showed one woman being knocked unconscious as a police horse smashed into her as she looked the other way. Reports said she was one of two people taken to hospital in an unknown condition.
Up to 5,000 people decended on Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels for ‘La Boum’ – French for ‘The Party’ – an event originally announced on Facebook as a joke.
Despite Belgium’s Covid rules barring gatherings of more than four people, the revellers had seemingly hoped to be treated ‘eight stages, a hundred DJs and zero coronavirus rules’ and acts including a one-off reunion of recently split French dance group Daft Punk.
Instead, they met with a stern response from the city’s police force after the moyor had demanded the youngsters disperse.
When they refused to leave, police on horseback charged into the crowd while other officers fired water cannons and used tear gas against rowdy party-goers.
Belgian police officers trampled park-goers under horses’ hooves after revellers refused to leave a prank festival for April Fools Day
A horse ran straight into one woman (right, moments before she was hit) in the park on Thursday
The woman was hit by the horse and sent crashing to the floor. Horrified onlookers rushed to help
More than 2,000 Belgians (pictured being dispersed) rushed to Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels to attend the fake ‘La Boum’ festival which was announced on Facebook as a joke
A girl was seen being lead away with a bloody nose by two others amid the chaos
A police officer was seen being led away by colleagues covered in blood as the crowd was dispersed in Brussels
A woman was seen covered in blood at the park during the protest in Brussels
A woman is seen clutching her head and crying after the fake La Boum lockdown party descended into chaos
Police were seen firing pepper spray at a party-goer in Brussels during the clashes
One girl stood with her arms out in front of a large fire blocking the road at the festival
Huge crowds – unperturbed by the revelation that the festival was a hoax – launched into a party on the grass, with speakers blasting music and revellers dancing and singing along. Pictured: Police spraying water cannons at revellers
When they refused to disperse, police on horseback charged into crowds while other officers fired water cannons (pictured) and used tear gas against rowdy revellers
Police used batons to beat protesters as they attempted to disperse the crowds
A woman poses with her hands in the shape of a heart in front of a fire set by partygoers in Belgium
A woman is seen running through the spray caused by a water cannon in Belgium on Thursday
Horses were seen rearing up as terrified onlookers jumped away in fear in the Brussels park
Last month, Belgium authorities announced a raft of stricter measures to combat a third wave of Covid-19 sweeping through Europe.
The country has a 10pm curfew in place in most areas and all bars, cafés and restaurants are closed – as are all of Belgium’s schools.
Non-essential shops are open but they can only be visited with a pre-booked appointment.
And, as of March 24, all outdoor gatherings are limited to just four people.
Hundreds of revellers descended on the park for the unauthorised festival organised by an anonymous group of people on Facebook
Police were seen spraying pepper spray into the faces of demonstrators who cowered in fear
People are sprayed by a police water cannon during a protest at Bois de la Cambre park
Teenagers clashed with the police as tensions escalated during an unauthorised festival
Revellers remained at the park into the night. Several were seen standing on a van
Mounted police officers surround protesters at the park in Brussels
Water was sprayed into the crowds as protesters defied the aggressive tactics
Protesters were blasted by fast jets of water as police officers tackled the crowd
Party goers were seen standing on a van in Belgium. The windscreen was smashed
Revellers were seen standing by a huge fire they started in Belgium during clashes with police
Belgian youth set a fire as they gathered for a fake concert announced on social media
People are seen holding cloths up to their mouths as they make their way through the tear gas in the park
Some 22 people were arrested and several police officers were injured in the clashes, Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de keere confirmed
Organisers of the La Boum festival told party-goers that the event was fake several times leading up to April 1. Pictured: Police clearing revellers from the park
Organisers of the La Boum festival told party-goers that the event was fake several times leading up to April 1.
But even so, police officers were forced to rush in clear lockdown-breaching revellers from the park at around 5pm.
Those who refused to leave began throwing objects – including bottles – at police.
It was then that officers began using water cannons, tear gas, pepper spray and a drone to break up the party, local paper The Brussels Times reports.
Earlier this week, mayor of the City of Brussels Philippe Close insisted the event was ‘unauthorised and fake’ – but warned people may gather regardless. Pictured: Police breaking up the event
Belgium has a daily infection rate of 420 – making it the tenth worst-hit nation in Europe. Pictured: People at the event today
Police officers (pictured) were forced to rush in to break up the gathering and clear lockdown-breaching revellers from the park at around 5pm
A woman is seen getting ready to throw a bottle at police officers at the prank festival today
People throw stones and bottles towards the police during a protest at Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels
Party-goers clashed with police in Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels on Thursday
Huge sprays of water from a water cannon were shot at revellers in Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels
Belgians clashed with the police in Bois de la Cambre park. Massive crowds gathered for a fake festival
People were seen throwing stones and bottles towards the police. Many objected to being told to leave a fake lockdown festival
Revellers were seen washing their faces with water after being doused with tear gas and pepper spray in Belgium
Earlier this week, mayor of the City of Brussels Philippe Close insisted the event was ‘unauthorised and fake’ – but warned people may gather regardless.
He said ‘police will be present at Bois de la Cambre and will act with discernment in the event of an actual gathering’ and urged party goers to consider officers ‘who have a lot of work to do and are subject to complex tasks in the context of the pandemic’.
Belgium has a daily infection rate of 420 – making it the tenth worst-hit nation in Europe.
Over the past week, the UK has recorded an average of 73 cases per one million people every day.
This is a lower rate than all 27 EU nations apart from Denmark and Portugal, which have both adopted strict lockdowns.
Belgium has reported over 882,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 23,000 virus-related deaths. Pictured: The party moments before the police arrived
Hospitalizations due to Covid -19 have risen in recent weeks in Belgium and health authorities have warned that intensive care units could reach a critical level by April 10 if the pace of new infections and hospitalizations does not slow down. Pictured: The party today
Revellers were seen enjoying the party in Bois de la Cambre in Belgium shortly before it was broken up by police
Hungary – the worst-affected EU nation – has a daily rate of 882 cases per one million.
In France it is 571, while the rate in the Netherlands is 449 and in Italy it is 334.
As Europe battles a third wave, UK cases, deaths and hospitalisations have fallen to a six-month low.
On Wednesday, another 43 deaths and 4,052 cases were recorded.
Deaths are now averaging 50 a day, down from a peak of 1,284 deaths on January 19. It also marked a 56 per cent week-on-week drop in deaths on last Wednesday.
And today, Britain’s daily coronavirus cases dropped by a third in a week and deaths are continuing to fall.
Department of Health bosses posted 4,479 lab-confirmed cases today and 51 deaths — down 20 per cent on the same day last week.
Figures also showed that more second vaccine doses (404,922) than first shots (241,906) were dished out for the second day in a row.
Data across the board revealed the virus remains in retreat, prompting experts to claim reopening schools had a ‘very small’ impact on cases and England was in a ‘good position’ for the next bout of lockdown-easing on April 12.
The Office for National Statistics estimated 148,100 Britons were infected on any given day last week — the lowest figure since before the second wave spiralled out of control and down almost 10 per cent on the previous seven-day spell.
Belgium has reported over 882,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 23,000 virus-related deaths.
Hospitalizations due to Covid -19 have risen in recent weeks and health authorities have warned that intensive care units could reach a critical level by April 10 if the pace of new infections and hospitalizations does not slow down.
Large crowds have been gathering across Brussels’ green spaces this week to enjoy the unusually warm weather.
Another event has been advertised for Friday in a different Brussels park, promoted by a group called the Abyss.
The group said it does not question the government’s strategy but fights for citizens’ rights to gather outdoors.