We Reclaim the Streets with a CHALKWALK!

Morning. Saturday. 10.30 am. The sun’s slowly coming up over the rooftops. The streets of Brussels are greeting us. All 4 of us are on ‘our way’. Anxious.

We meet up at ‘Ribaucourt, Molenbeek’. The place where Angelika was harassed. The streets still look quite empty, as if Brussels hasn’t fully woken up yet.

We arrive cheerfully to the ‘spot’, we organise, make our DIY ‘banners’, excited. Time to start. This is Angelika’s moment. With colorful chalk she starts to write on the sidewalk. People pass by glancing quickly, trying to read what she’s writing. ‘I was harassed here. I Hollaback. I reclaim the street.’ she writes strongly.
When it’s over we hug and congratulate Angelika and with our banner she goes and stands at the top of her chalk-text, reclaiming this street, this sidewalk!

 Next stop: Lemonnier. The place where Anna was harassed. The tram takes us there and Anna retells parts of her story. She shows us where she went and stood trying to get away from her harasser, there, in the middle of that four-lane boulevard. The ritual is the same.

She starts to write, getting into the moment. People pass. Try to read. When it’s over we hug her firmly and congratulate her. She proudly and beautifully reclaims this spot.

And so we continue. To the Metro/Subway ‘De Brouckere’.

The place where Ingrid was harassed. She walks with us and shows us where her story happened. On the staircase leading to the subway platform.

She decides to write in front of the subway entrance, on the sidewalk. It’s a busy spot. When she starts, some people actually stop to see what’s she’s writing, what’s happening. The language changes. Writing in French now.
A guy comes over asks us ‘what we are doing?’ We explain, he thinks ‘this is great, he hasn’t seen anyone do this before’. Ingrid boldly reclaims ‘De Brouckere’.

 

We hug and congratulate her and we’re off again to our last stop: the bridge at the cemetery of Ixelles. The place where Julie was harassed.
Again a busy place. Cars honk their horns at us while we’re on the bridge. What are we doing? People pass.
Julie writes in beautiful French. It feels like artwork. We let her get into her moment. She writes: ‘J’ai été harcelée ici. La rue m’appartient. Hollaback’.
La rue m’appartient: The street belongs to me. Such a ‘right way’ to say this.

When Julie is finished, she goes and stands on the bridge and fiercely reclaims it. We hug her and cheer!

And that .. concludes the first part of our day! AWESOME is not even a strong enough word to describe it! EMPOWERING comes close! What we discovered was that writing with chalk on the sidewalk, on the street, on the bridge, telling Brussels: “I was harassed here’ ‘I reclaim the street’ is a powerful, liberating ritual and an amazing hollaback !

 

Check out our Facebook page for more photos about this street action!

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