About 30.000 people participated in the demonstration on Saturday, 19th May in Frankfurt (Main), Germany, the largest demonstration in the town of banks for decades!
There was a heavy police presence at the demonstration, up to six rows of police alongside some of the protesters, but protesters remained surprisingly calm despite the continuous provocations from the police. The demonstration ended at its planned destination, a stone’s throw away (nobody threw one) from the European Central Bank headquarters and the skyscrapers of many other large banks.
Activists from many different countries, including Greece, Italy and Spain, joined the demonstration and enjoyed the festive atmosphere in Frankfurt.
The police stopped several protesters from reaching Frankfurt in the previous days (they set up checkpoints on the motorways into town). The police issued a ban for the city centre for a large number of protesters, including three busses from Berlin. Some of them were detained, some dropped on the outskirts of the city. More than 400 participants of the demonstration on March 31st received a letter announcing that they were prohibited from entering the city centre and threatening them with high fines. This ban was lifted according to court ruling but the police still continued to issue such bans.
The demonstration on May 19th was the only legal event during the Blockupy action days from May 16th to 19th. The right to free assembly was suspended by the city of Frankfurt and by several court rulings. Thousands signed a statement protesting against this ban.
Even concerts were banned, including a performance by singer Konstantin Wecker. Despite the ban, many assembled on Thursday, 17th May on Paulsplatz in Frankfurt, next to the Paulskirche.
Mass media and shop owners criticised the police for practically shutting down the centre of town. All cash machines in the city centre did not work.
At the blockade action on Friday, normal business in the banking area practically came to a standstill. All access routes to the city centre were blocked by the police, regular business in the banking area was made impossible, the streets were nearly empty… At one of the blockade actions, a 17-year-old woman was hit and kicked by the police and had to go to hospital. During the action days, 1430 people were detained (according to the legal team (EA Frankfurt)).
Banks in Frankfurt advised their staff to either stay at home on Friday (Thursday was a bank holiday) or come to work in ordinary clothes rather than suits and ties. A scheduled meeting at the ECB was cancelled. The university buildings were closed (even those outside the city centre).
Before the blockades, the Occupy camp, located directly in front of the European Central Bank, was temporarily evicted. The Occupy activists were able to return and celebrate on Sunday right after the demonstration.
Some more reports:
Saturday, May 19, 2012 by Common Dreams: 25,000 Rally Against Austerity in Germany. ‘Blockupy Frankfurt’ protesters: “When unfairness becomes the rule, resistance becomes a duty”: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/05/19-0
Connessioni Precarie (Precarious Connections, Italy): http://www.connessioniprecarie.org/2012/05/21/blockard-from-frankfurt-it-was-worth-it-being-here/
A collection of press reports in German:
Blockupy Frankfurt is a glimmer of hope in times of austerity:
see also: Notes on Blockupy Frankfurt by Sandro Mezzadra: https://crisisandchange.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/notes-from-blockupy-frankfurt/
Videos (no women interviewed):
Hagen, No One Is Illegal, Hanau / No Border Network: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6PisPkwqI4
Christos, Dikaioma collective, Athens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zliGFYEGvs4
Marcus, Fels, Berlin / Interventionistische Linke: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S71vom7odEI