The mayor of Antwerp (Belgium), Bart De Wever, has forbidden Anonymous for the Voiceless to organize ‘Cube of Truth’ events in his city. We received an official refusal stating that “It is forbidden to walk around with masks” and “Children will see the shocking footage too”. It is indeed by law forbidden to be unrecognizable in the city of Antwerp, unless you have a permission by the police. We believe we deserve a permission to wear masks because of the following reasons:
· Activists who are wearing masks are not walking around, but standing still on the same spot.
· We are peaceful activists, not disturbing the public order in any way. So we have no problem in being observed by the police.
· Masks attract the attention of passerby and puts the focus on the footage being presented. It is therefore an important part for the effectiveness of our activism.
· Masks makes the activists in ‘the cube’ anonymous, therefore representing any member of society, giving them the ability to hide their facial expressions and ignore possible verbal abuse from passerby.
· The masks and the black dresscode gives our cubes uniformity and thus making it an act of art also.
· In Brussels, masks are allowed for our activism.
We believe that “Children will see the shocking footage too” does not justify the prohibition of our activism for the following reasons:
· There isn’t a law prohibiting the exposure of graphic footage to children to the best of our knowledge.
· The same or similar footage is regularly being broadcasted on national television.
· Children on a busy street should always be accompanied by a guardian who then decides whether or not the child is allowed to view the footage.
· In the event of a child being alone, it is forbidden by AV rules that activists show the footage to the child i.e. consent is always needed from a guardian.
· Children, like everyone, have the right to know how their food is being produced so they can make informed decisions in their life.
· We can use disclaimers that warn about the graphic content of the footage if necessary.
We are willing to make a compromise in our activism and not wear masks in order for us to promote this message of peace, even though we hope the mayor will reconsider.