Protesters sought to disrupt the grand opening of the European Central Bank’s headquarters.
Image via Twitter user Muschelschloss (@Muschelschloss)
The European Central Bank (ECB) was welcomed to Germany on Tuesday by angry anti-austerity and anti-capitalist protesters, who came to blows with police in front of the bank’s new Frankfurt headquarters. Over 8,000 riot police showed up ahead of the protest to control the demonstrators with pepper spray and tear gas. The protest ended in violent confrontations between the people and the police, who detained about 500 demonstrators. The New York Times reports that some demonstrators burned cars, garbage cans and furniture as riot police cracked down on their gathering.
A European group called Blockupy organized the protest—they describe themselves as a “transnational movement” of “activists, altermondialists, migrants, jobless, precarious and industry workers, party members, and unionists” from all over Europe. The anti-capitalist group released a press statement last week, declaring their opposition to the ECB and calling for the rally.
“We will be in Frankfurt, bringing together many networks, workers, trade unions, to say that we are the alternative: we want another Europe, a Europe which is not subservient to the capital, a Europe which does not use monetary policies in order to establish precarity and to cut social rights, welfare benefits, and democracy,” they wrote.
Image via Twitter user Monika Gemmer (@MonikaGemmer)
When Blockupy demonstrators arrived at the ECB’s skyscraper headquarters, they found the premises fenced off with barbed wire and police tape. The grand inauguration planned for the day was downgraded to a simple party as news of the march spread. It’s likely that the barricade further inflamed the anger of demonstrators.
Blockupy cites the ECB’s involvement in Greece and other struggling Euopean nations as a reason for their resistance to it. The ECB is one of three European monetary organizations, often referred to as the “troika,” responsible for imposing severe austerity measures in Greece following the country’s debt crisis. Public salaries were cut drastically, government holdings were privatized and public services were slashed to reduce government spending. The policies ended up exacerbating the recession, devastating the livelihoods of Greece’s middle and working classes.
“The troika is making life difficult,” one Greek protester told the NY Times. “Schools are closing. Greeks can’t get proper health care. I have family there; we’re closer to the problem.”
Still, banks were bailed out and bank bosses got their payday, which is the important thing.
Image via Twitter user Martín Steinhagen (@mstnhgn)