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Rules for a successful demonstration

April 22, 2012, 9:48 AM

The role of the SPVM is not to judge the value of the demonstration, but rather to safeguard all the participants and all the bystanders and business owners along the route. 

Furthermore, the SPVM is also charged with maintaining the sense of security of all citizens, whether or not they are taking part in the demonstration.

The SPVM fully respects the right to demonstrate, but wants to reiterate that this right may only be exercised as long as it does not infringe on the security of the public or the police officers, and as long as the demonstration follows all laws and by-laws in effect. If infractions or acts of violence are committed, the demonstration will be declared illegal and the SPVM will be obliged to intervene to end it. 

For the demonstrators’ security and the residents’ peace of mind, we wish to remind the participants of the rules to follow before and during the demonstration, to ensure it proceeds in a safe and orderly fashion.

Rules for a successful demonstration
  • Obey all laws and bylaws in effect.
  • Pay attention to instructions given by police officers: their objective is to ensure your safety. 
  • If demonstrators in your group occupy buildings or rooms, either public or private, the police will evict them at the request of the owner.
  • If the demonstration is declared illegal, please leave the area peacefully. 
  • If you do not hear the first verbal warnings and you see the riot police (police officers carrying shields), leave the area. This means that the demonstration has been declared illegal and that officers are preparing to intervene.

Questions and answers

Q. Who issues an eviction order and how is it carried out?

A. An eviction order is given when the person in charge of a public or private place asks for the demonstrators to be expelled. The SPVM is obliged in this case to intervene and take every possible action to restore order and the occupants’ sense of security.

Q. How much time do the police give the demonstrators to vacate the location and how do they inform them of this?

A. Depending on the situation, the SPVM may give one or several verbal warnings asking the demonstrators to leave the premises. If the public peace is in jeopardy or citizen security is compromised and the demonstrators do not respond to the verbal warning(s), the SPVM will escalate to another level of the intervention scale, to enforce the order to vacate the premises.

Q. What causes a demonstration to be declared illegal?

A. If infractions or acts of violence are committed, the demonstration is declared illegal and the SPVM is obliged to intervene to end it. Likewise, if demonstrators occupy premises and the people in charge of those premises ask for police help to expel them from a room or building, the demonstration is considered to be illegal.

Q. Why does the SPVM sent out intervention groups (riot squads) during demonstrations?

A. As soon as a demonstration is declared illegal, reinforcements from the intervention groups are called in and take the necessary steps to end the demonstration.

Q. Why do the police intervene on the street?

A. If the security of the participants is in jeopardy, or if infractions, violence, vandalism, misdemeanours or other dangerous actions are committed, the police are obliged to intervene and end the demonstration as quickly as possible. When these things occur, the demonstration has become illegal.

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