Activists Blockupy the European Central Bank

Posted: June 3, 2013 in Austerity, Europe, Germany, International

blockLast Friday thousands of demonstrators descended on the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt to protest against the troika – the ECB, the IMF and the European Commission – and the policies they have been implementing in southern Europe. The demonstration had been called by the Federal Blockupy Coalition (Blockupy). Martin Sommer, a spokesperson for Blockupy argues that the troika are “pushing austerity measures and making people in southern Europe suffer.” Activists were also protesting against other issues, including food price speculation unemployment and inflation. “The aim of this blockade is to prevent normal operations [at the ECB],” said Sommer, adding that some people who had tried to come to work had been sent home by the protesters.

Governments struggling with large debt burdens have cut spending and raised taxes, contributing to widespread recession across the euro zone, while many families are deep in debt or have lost their homes after property bubbles burst. Sol Trumbo Vila, a member of the Indignados movement and a co-ordinator of the Blockupy demonstration claims that “the troika are using the crisis to implement a long time decided neo-liberal agenda, privatising of public services, weakening of labour laws through their so called austerity measures.” Many of Frankfurt’s banks have urged staff to take Friday as holiday after a state holiday on Thursday. The demonstration was held roughly a year after police detained hundreds of people for defying a temporary ban on protests at a similar four-day event in Frankfurt.

Armed with signs bearing slogans such as “humanity before profit”, the protesters gathered in the rain to block roads including those leading to Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in the city’s financial district. They were met by armed police in full riot gear and accompanied by dog units. Trucks with water cannons stood by and a helicopter hovered overhead. At least 20 protesters held up inflatable mattresses with the slogan “War Starts Here” written on them. Police said some protesters had thrown stones and there were some clashes at the barricades, but the protest was generally peaceful.

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