Part of the monument in honor of John Cockerill on the Luxemburgplein in Ixelles has been removed from its pedestal. A Belga photographer determined this on site. This is the statue of the mechanic Beaufort, one of the four workers depicted around the monument to the former Belgian-British industrialist. “From a heritage point of view, it is irreparable,” responds Ixelles alderman Yves Royet. Prime Minister De Croo also reacts indignantly to X. “It is completely wrong that John Cockerill should be removed as a symbol of Belgian industry.”
The statue was left on the ground, surrounded by burning pallets. The man who was taken from his pedestal is the mechanic Beaufort. The statue was left on the ground, among the flames and trash, Belga found. A farmer’s doll now stands in the place of the statue.
Luxembourg Square, near the European Parliament, is the heart of the farmers’ demonstration on Thursday. A thousand tractors have traveled to the capital from all corners of the country and abroad. The farmers want to express their dissatisfaction, ranging from the free trade agreements to the administrative burden, too strict European standards and too low prices.
During the morning, the atmosphere on the square became grimmer: demonstrators threw objects such as beer bottles and eggs at European buildings and the police, a farmer dumped his manure cart over the square and the central statue was also targeted.
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The monument in honor of John Cockerill was created in 1872 by sculptor Armand Cattier and pays tribute to one of the pioneers of the steel industry in Belgium, as well as to the workers of the sector. These are represented by the four bronze statues that were placed around the industrialist.
‘Get the statue to safety’
Yves Royet, the alderman for patrimony of Ixelles, went on site to measure the damage to the statue of John Cockerill on Place Luxembourg. “The facts took place around 3:00 am. The police are now looking at the video camera images to see what exactly happened,” he responds. The perpetrator(s) may also be prosecuted. “We will also discuss with the municipal services whether it is possible and necessary to move the statue to safety before the end of the demonstration.”
Rouyet criticizes the action: “From a heritage point of view, it is irreparable. From a symbolic point of view it is a shame.”The monument in honor of John Cockerill was created in 1872 by sculptor Armand Cattier and pays tribute to one of the pioneers of the steel industry in Belgium, as well as to the workers of the sector. These are represented by the four bronze statues that were placed around the industrialist.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) also criticizes the destruction of the statue. “It is completely wrong that John Cockerill should be replaced as a symbol of Belgian industry,” he writes in a post on X. “We have to get away from the clash between agriculture and industry. Farmers and entrepreneurs are not opposites. We need them both for a strong and sustainable economy.”
Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) also speaks out against “vandalism”. “Good agreements make good friends. The police services will therefore also intervene where necessary. Destroying monuments, demolishing street infrastructure, cat and mouse games with our police officers will be tackled. It is in everyone’s interest to show responsibility.”
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