Thousands blockade European Central Bank in Frankfurt (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Anti-capitalist protesters have taken to the streets of the financial heart of Frankfurt a day ahead of Europe-wide gatherings planned for June 1 to protest leaders handling of the three-year euro debt crisis.
"We call up everyone to join our protests."
The ECB spokesman told The Guardian that the Blockupy protests have not disturbed day to day operations at the bank, but would not specify how many bankers managed to come to work.
Apart from those who amassed outside the ECB, a smaller demonstration took place at the nearby Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) headquarters, where around 50 police vehicles had been deployed. The protesters set off by midday.
The crowd, estimated at 2,500 by local authorities, clutched signs demanding ‘humanity before profit’.
Rain-soaked and dressed in ponchos, the crowd is equipped with a wide array of protest props- vuvuzelas, yellow wigs, pots and pans, and mattresses with the spray-painted slogan 'War Starts Here'.
‘Blockupy’ has become a top-ten Twitter trend in Frankfurt, and at 10:09am (08:09 GMT), user Enough14 tweeted, “Strong Powerful blockade at Kaiserstr. Not one banker will come through here," in reference to the ECB headquarters.
Police reported some protesters had thrown stones and there were some clashes at the barricades, but so far the protests are being conducted peacefully.
The mass of protesters first gathered early Friday morning in the
rainy financial center of Frankfurt, in an effort to block roads
leading to the ECB and Deutsche Bank headquarters.
The crowd was met by police decked out in riot gear accompanied by large Alsatian dogs. Helicopters hovered above and water cannon trucks were on standby.
Many of Frankfurt’s banks have urged staff to take Friday as a holiday, following a state holiday on Thursday.
Spokesman Martin Sommer said Frankfurt’s financial district could be occupied by as many as 20,000 who believe the Troika – the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund – is imposing an “austerity dictate" on financially troubled countries they have bailed out.
Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, have received bailout loans and Spain has received loans for its banks.
Blockupy spokeswoman Frauke Distelrath said the protest was not aimed at bank employees, but at its role "as an important participant in the policies that are impoverishing people in Europe, in the cutbacks that are costing people their ability to make a living."
The protesters have been granted permission to demonstrate at the airport by a court on Thursday, even after the airport operator requested the group be kept outside of the terminal.
Blockupy assembled outside of the airport at 1 p.m. local time local time to protest against German immigration policies and what activists have decried as an “inhumane deportation system.” Fraport, the airport operator, has advised passengers to arrive early for their flights.
The court said if the number of protestors in the terminal exceeds 200, police can break up the gathering. Felix Gottwald, a pilot, tweeted that security had been stepped up at Frankfurt airport in anticipation of the arrival of Blockupy protesters. Passengers at the airport have noted the heavy security presence, saying that only those who show a valid boarding pass can enter the building.
Activists are tweeting that anywhere between 200-800 protesters are currently blocking Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1, although those number remain unconfirmed.
In last year’s protests police shut down Frankfurt’s city center in anticipation of the demonstration.
Eurozone employment hits record high to 12.2 percent in April.
The demonstration is taking place almost exactly a year after police detained hundreds in a four-day march against a temporary ban on protests in Frankfurt last June.
Blockupy protesters are also protesting against other issues, including food price.