On Saturday, June 1st 2013, 20000 people gathered in Frankfurt (Main), Germany’s financial centre and headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) and many other banks, to protest against the fierce austerity politics of the Troika (ECB), European Commission and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Simultaneously, there were protests announced in more than 80 cities in 11 countries with the slogan “People United Against the Troika”. This was the second Blockupy event after successful blockades in May 2012.
The march in Frankfurt proceeded for about 20 minutes, and was then stopped by the police. The police charged the rows just behind the front of the demonstration without warning and for no apparent reason. 1052 protesters were kettled by the police. Old and young people were brutally beaten with batons, and masses of pepper spray were sprayed by the police. 200 protesters were injured, including several journalists, and some had to be taken to hospital. The police attacked journalists despite visible press cards. Medics were obstructed when trying to help injured protesters, and the medical treatment area was overrun by policemen.
The police suggested to the organising team of the demonstration, that they continue on an alternative route further away from the ECB building. This other route had been proposed by the city prior to the event, and the administrative court ruled that the Blockupy alliance has the right to march in front of the ECB. Despite this court verdict, the police insisted on suspending the right to demonstrate. They claimed that the kettled protesters were masked and wearing protective shields. In actual fact, protesters were wearing sunglasses, were armed with colourful umbrellas (the weather forecast had predicted rain), and shields made of styrofoam.
The police obviously expected the rest of the demonstration to proceed and leave those kettled by the police standing on their own. They were wrong: The whole demonstration stopped in solidarity and stayed there – for eight, nine hours. The planned closure event at Willy-Brandt-Platz was instead improvised on the spot (incidently a narrow passage just before the legally authorised route and the proposed alternative route separate). Parliamentary observers stood in between the riot police and the kettled protesters with their hands raised in the air, and were then fiercly carried away by the police.
Among those who were not injured, despite all the masses of pepper spray, the mood remained festive, also thanks to the many comrades from Italy and other countries, including Mexican activists from the airport protests in Atenco. The protesters listened to news from Turkey about ongoing protests. They also celebrated the success on the previous day of actions and blockades. On May 31st, thousands got up very early in the morning to block the access to the European Central Bank and then later block the “Zeil”, Frankfurt’s famous shopping street. Business at Primark, H&M and other fashion stores was brought to a standstill and customers reminded of the factory fires and precarious working conditions in Bangladesh and elsewhere. Another blockade at the Deutsche Bank protested against landgrabbing in the global South. There was also an assembly at Frankfurt airport against deportation and fortress Europe.
The police continued to prevent the march, and then checked the identity of all those kettled until 22h30. Then finally, the remaining protesters started a spontaneous demonstration to Frankfurt’s main station, ending at midnight.
Mainstream media on Saturday began with reporting violent clashes between protesters and police. All protesters remained peaceful despite all police violence, and the opinion in the domestic media started to change… Since many journalists witnessed police violence or were kettled themselves, they complained about the suspension of the basic right to assemble. At the following police press conference in Frankfurt, several journalists complained about being hurt or obstructed by the police, “a shame for Frankfurt”, someone shouted. The press conference almost turned into a kind of tribunal against the police.
Several Open Letters and declarations of solidarity have been written by citizens and trade unions (including the Journalists’ Union) to the authorities denouncing the police violence. The Blockupy alliance promises that the struggle against the brutal austerity policies will continue, and plans to return to Frankfurt for the planned inauguration of the new ECB building in 2014.
Some media reports in English (other languages below):
Thousands blockade European Central Bank in Frankfurt: http://rt.com/news/protest-austerity-troika-frankfurt-042/
Anti-austerity protests held across Europe: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2013/06/2013619152349261.html
Echoes of the crisis: http://www.europolitics.info/economy-monetary-affairs/echoes-of-the-crisis-art351942-29.html
02.06.13: Blockupy paralyzes Frankfurt for second year in a row. By Peter Storm: http://roarmag.org/2013/06/blockupy-frankfurt-protests-ecb-banks/ (also in ZNet)
01.06.13: Across Europe, People ‘Rising Up’ Againt Austerity and the ‘Profiteers of Crisis’. Street demonstrations in Germany, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere call for end of failed policies. By Jon Queally: https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/01-2
01.06.13: Frankfurt ‘Blockupy’ protesters clash with police: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/01/us-germany-blockupy-idUSBRE95009C20130601
01.06.13: Frankfurt riot police charge into marching Blockupy activists, scuffle with protesters: http://rt.com/news/frankfurt-march-police-scuffles-112/
31.05.13: Anti-Capitalism Blockupy Blockades Banks In Frankfurt, Revolution Feared: http://www.countercurrents.org/cc010613.htm
31.05.13: Anti-Capitalist Protest: ‘Blockupy’ Surrounds ECB in Frankfurt: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/blockupy-protest-surrounds-european-central-bank-in-frankfurt-a-902981.html
31.05.13: ‘Masters of Austerity’ Targeted as Blockupy Activists Shut Down European Central Bank. ‘The aim of this blockade is to prevent normal operations’ at powerful institution headquarters in Frankfurt. By Jon Queally: https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/31
31.05.13: Thousands blockade European Central Bank in Frankfurt: http://rt.com/news/protest-austerity-troika-frankfurt-042/
Today’s Zaman (Turkey): http://www.todayszaman.com/news-317182-frankfurt-blockupy-demonstrators-clash-with-police.html (Reuters)
Turkish Weekly – Protesters clash for second day in Frankfurt: http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/151099/protesters-clash-for-second-day-in-frankfurt.html
Germany: clashes at Blockupy protest in Frankfurt: 3.6.13: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/jun/01/germany-clashes-blockupy-protest-frankfurt-video
A few reports on Blockupy and People United Against the Troika on June 1st in other languages:
#1j #Blockupy in corteo a Francoforte: http://www.dinamopress.it/news/1j-blockupy-in-corteo-a-francoforte
31m #blockupy il giorno dei blocchi: http://www.dinamopress.it/news/31m-blockupy-il-giorno-dei-blocchi
Video: In diretta dal corteo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDjhv5Jo6Cc
Commento di Gmdp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfvRQ_xw-80
Video: Gas pimienta contra la manifestación de Blockupy ante la sede del BCE: http://video.publico.es/videos/0/132172/4/recent
Unos 3.000 manifestantes rodean la sede del Banco Central Europeo. L’Humanité: 31/05/2013: http://www.lamarea.com/2013/05/31/unos-3-000-manifestantes-rodean-la-sede-del-banco-central-europeo/
Lists of media reports in German (Pressespiegel):
http://umsganze.org/blockupy-2013-pressespiegel/ (mit Bildern und Videos)
04.06.2013: Presse übt deutliche Kritik an Polizeieinsatz bei Blockupy: https://linksunten.indymedia.org/de/node/87931
Artikel mit Kommentaren zu Zeitungsberichten:
Berichte über Pressekonferenz am 04.06.13:
Bild 04.06.13: http://www.bild.de/regional/frankfurt/frankfurt-am-main/polizei-wuerde-es-wieder-so-machen-30678248.bild.html
FR 04.06.13: http://www.fr-online.de/blockupy-frankfurt/blockupy-demonstration-polizisten-kritisieren-kollegen,15402798,23119030.html
taz 04.06.13: http://www.taz.de/Polizei-gegen-Journlisten-bei-Blockupy/!117433/