Thousands March in Frankfurt Against Austerity Measures
May 19, 2012
At least 20,000 demonstrators marched through Frankfurt
on Saturday in a peaceful protest against austerity
measures implemented to tackle the intensifying euro
zone debt crisis.
Police closed off main roads in the centre of Frankfurt
and set up check points on highways around the city as
part of a heavy security operation to protect Germany's
The protesters are angry at the misery they say
governments are inflicting on people with their
response to the crisis, which has intensified since
inconclusive elections in Greece this month fueled
concerns about its future in the euro zone.
"We're protesting against the Europe-wide policy of
impoverishment by the troika," said a spokeswoman for
the 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement, who put the
number of protesters at 25,000. Police said there were
The troika refers to European Central Bank,
International Monetary Fund, and European Union
officials who are supervising bailout programs extended
to Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
The Frankfurt-based European Central Bank (ECB) is at
the centre of the policy response to the crisis and has
faced calls from politicians, investors and protesters
to do more.
The central bank says it has already headed off a major
credit crunch with unprecedented funding operations in
December and February that unleashed over 1 trillion
euros ($1.3 trillion) into the financial system.
Saturday's march - the final demonstration in a four-
day-long 'Blockupy' protest - passed off peacefully and
without police detaining any demonstrators.
The protest followed a legal scrap between activists
and authorities over whether the demonstrations should
be allowed to proceed.
A court on Monday gave the go-ahead for a rave dance
party organized by protesters on Wednesday and
Saturday's protest, but ruled against demonstrations
taking place on other days. Several hundred activists
were detained earlier in the week for defying that ban.
(Reporting by Till Weber, Ludwig Burger and Paul
Carrel; Editing by Sophie Hares)
Protesters Descend on Frankfurt's Banks
Around 40 organizations belonging to the anti-
banker Blockupy movement have gathered in
Frankfurt. Their goal is to keep bankers from
Deutsche Welle (Germany)
May 19, 2912
More than 5000 police were stationed around Frankfurt's
banking district on Friday. Armed with bullet-proof
vests, body armor and special helmets, they stood
behind barricades, flanked by row upon row of police
cars as police helicopters circled above. They appeared
to be ready for combat.
At 6 a.m., activists had planned to bar the entrances
to major German banks in the framework of a 'Blockupy'
protest. But no one showed up that early. "They're
still asleep. Demonstrating before breakfast is no
fun," a police officer joked.
Police and security forces were on the ready all night
long, waiting tensely, in the hope that none of the
activists would push their way through the barricades.
The streets around the European Central Bank (ECB),
usually madly busy with traffic and people, were eerily
Just after 7 a.m., a few people scurried along the
empty streets, mobile phones in hand, casting
questioning glances. Back and forth they went, but then
most of them gave up and left. No wonder - the banks
had boarded up their entrances.
"Those are all bankers," said Englishman Jack Bailly,
who runs a newspaper stand between the Deutsche Bank
building and the European Central Bank. Bankers without
three-piece suits and dress shoes? "The police told
them to wear casual clothes so they wouldn't draw
attention to themselves and provoke anybody" Bailly
told DW. He'd given up on sales for the day. He gave a
Dutch reporter an interview; both men felt the security
operation was excessive.
Jack Bailly planned to deliver papers to the ECB before
he, too left for home. But even here, there was only
emergency staff. Police took over the task of
distributing the papers, climbing over the barriers
they'd erected. Bank employees, all wearing casual
clothes, stood in small groups, watching. Some smiled,
others were annoyed. They'd all just been told that
they, too, could go home as almost all banks would
It was quiet in the banking district. Later that
morning, police cars would rush through, sirens
screaming, on their way to the Frankfurt trade fair
buildings, where a group of about 50 'Blockupy'
protesters had gathered.
In less than five minutes, the protesters at the fair
grounds were surrounded by police. The activists
protested loudly, but remained peaceful. Reporters and
cameramen came running, microphones were thrust out.
Hasn't the protest failed, now that police have barred
access to the financial district? the media asked. "No,
absolutely not," a Blockupy supporter replied.
The police have done an excellent job of keeping the
bankers away from their jobs, several demonstrators
explained gleefully. The surrounding police did not
find this funny. Bystanders shook their heads and asked
the group of protesters whether they believed their
actions would change the thinking of the bank managers
or the banking system. "That is obviously a slow
process," said one of the protesters. But they said it
was important to point out that normal citizens do not
accept the excesses of the financial world. The bankers
they condemn did not pay any attention to the
demonstrations. The additional protests announced for
Friday and Saturday will require even more police
presence. "Probably nothing will change," said a
pharmacist who took the risk of opening her business
across from Commerzbank. She was hoping to sell a lot
of painkillers. Not for the bankers. Not for the
demonstrators. But for the police.
Author: Wolfgang Dick / gb Editor: Simon Bone
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