Americans warned to avoid SHAPE HQ this Saturday
Americans are being warned to avoid NATO military headquarters in Mons, Belgium, on Saturday.
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, or SHAPE, has been targeted as a protest site by the Bombspotters and other pacifist groups determined to enter the base and search for nuclear weapons. Organizers, who are calling the program “Get in SHAPE,” expect about 2,500 people to clog the main street in front the base and its Berlin Gate entrance.
“There’s no tradition of violence with this group,” said Marie-Lise Baneton, spokeswoman for the Army’s 80th Area Support Group.
However, the sheer number of demonstrators expected and the limited means of access to SHAPE mean that the entire street will be virtually sealed off.
“By the time you add all those people on the road, traffic will be very, very difficult,” Baneton said. “And the other thing is, we try to have no confrontation.”
The main gate will be closed, as will a number of facilities on the post. Except in the case of urgent business, personnel are being told to avoid SHAPE altogether from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Those living on post are being told to lock their garages and avoid any contact with the demonstrators.
People living near the base are being told to avoid the main road leading to Berlin Gate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Although SHAPE will operate as usual Friday, anyone entering the base should expect delays.
“There might be problems getting in SHAPE on Friday afternoon, because they’ll be getting ready for the next day’s activities,” Baneton said.