Some 350 people have been detained at the Blockupy protest in Frankfurt on the day the European Central Bank headquarters open in the city. 88 police have been injured in clashes. Tear gas was used against protesters, who pelted stones and torched cars.
“Many protesters have been injured as police used water cannons and tear gas,” representatives of Blockupy movement told RIA Novosti. The protest is to go on into the night.
We detained about 350 persons who were committing crimes and rioted in #Frankfurt#EZB#18M#18nulldrei#Blockupy— Polizei Frankfurt (@Polizei_Ffm) March 18, 2015
Water cannons and tear gas were deployed by police after the demonstrators torched several cars, pelted stones at police and put tires on fire in the center of the city.
“We have registered over 1,100 offenses,” police told RIA. Eighty eight officers were injured, a Frankfurt police spokesperson later added.
— Lídia Pedro (@LidiaPedro9) March 18, 2015
A total of 10,000 policemen are ensuring security in the city. Official representatives of Blockupy describe the current security measures as unprecedented, and accuse the police of creating an atmosphere of fear.RT’s Peter Oliver spoke to one of the rally organizers, who have come from Spain, Sol Trumbo Vila of Transnational Institute.
“This is an expression of anger at the way European policies are affecting European citizens,” Vila said. “Today the authorities are having a party to celebrate the institutionalization of neoliberal policies on the European continent. And we are here to say there’s no consensus in the way the European policies are being imposed. This is affecting all countries.”
One of the tear gas canisters fired at demonstrators today in#Frankfurt#blockupyfrankfurtpic.twitter.com/NYhpFZr7gb— Peter Oliver (@PeterGOliver_RT) March 18, 2015
Police came under fire from the organizers for causing the violence, saying security forces orchestrated a "civil war-type scenario" to provoke demonstrators.
"This is not what Blockupy planned," the group’s spokesman, Hendrik Wester, told German news agency DPA.
In response, the chairman of the German Police Union (GdP), Oliver Malchow, said the violence had gone far enough.
"We're talking about serious crimes here. The term 'protest' doesn't fit in this case,"he told broadcaster n-tv.
Banks and supermarkets in the area have announced that they will close early for the day, and the neighborhood around to the ECB headquarters is only open to local residents and office employees.
Trash cans have been set on fire across the city, and more cars torched in the city’s West-end area.
Thousands of people have been expected to come to Frankfurt Wednesday to protest against a crisis situation in Europe they say has been created by the ECB, EU and IMF, and mainly enforced by the German government.
Getting a bit rowdy again. Demonstrators march through police lines.pic.twitter.com/h4VZMXQ8n5— Peter Oliver (@PeterGOliver_RT) March 18, 2015
The official ceremony marking the opening of the new ECB headquarters took place, despite Blockupy attempts to thwart it.
ECB President Mario Draghi thanked guests "for being here despite the difficult situation outside,'' AP reported.
The new headquarters for the euro currency union's central bank is, according to Draghi, “a symbol of what Europe can achieve together.''
The cost of the new ECB headquarters is reported to be 1.3 billion euros
Blockupy is an anti-capitalist alliance of leftist groups, who gather to attract attention to ECB policies which, they say, have favored the rich over the poor, the banks over the people, the creditor class over debtors. They call the current situation across the EU “the European crisis regime.”
"Our protest is against the ECB, as a member of the troika that, despite the fact that it is not democratically elected, hinders the work of the Greek government. We want the austerity politics to end," Reuters quoted Ulrich Wilken, one of the organizers, as saying.