Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Blockupy protest on Wednesday coincided with the inauguration of the European Central Bank's new $1 million building in Frankfurt, Germany. (Photo: DPA)

Fed Up With Austerity Policies, #Blockupy Storms Streets of Frankfurt

'There's a crisis in Europe, especially southern Europe, and people are being asked to tighten their belts and we don't accept that,' says anti-Troika organizer; Hundreds arrested after splinter group clashes with riot police

Deirdre Fulton

Anti-austerity protests boiled over near the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt on Wednesday, with hundreds of people arrested after an off-shoot from an otherwise peaceful march clashed with police.

Around 10,000 anti-austerity protesters reportedly gathered under the banner of #Blockupy—an alliance united against the so-called 'Troika' of the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund who oversee bailout packages in the eurozone. The alliance opposes the economic policies behind such packages, saying they harm the poor and middle class.

According to the German news service Deutsche Welle, the Blockupy network "is composed of more than 90 organizations from across Europe—some big, some small—that have united in opposition to what Blockupy calls 'the European crisis regime'."

As Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday:

Some of the bigger member organizations include the activist groups Attac, founded in 1998 to advocate a financial transaction tax; the German political party 'Die Linke' (The Left), which currently has a little over ten percent of the seats in the national parliament; and even Germany's second biggest union union, Verdi, which has over two million members.

Syriza, the leftist alliance party that won Greece's national election in late January, is also a Blockupy member.

Around 100 high-profile guests, including ECB President Mario Draghi, were expected to attend the opening of the ECB's new headquarters, which cost a reported $1 billion to build.

"We're doing this on the day of the inauguration because there’s nothing to celebrate," said Hannah Eberle, a Blockupy spokeswoman. "There's a crisis in Europe, especially southern Europe, and people are being asked to tighten their belts and we don't accept that."

But BBC reports that "hopes of a peaceful rally were dashed" early Wednesday:

Tyres and rubbish bins were set alight and police responded with water cannon as firefighters complained they were unable to get to the fires to put them out. One fire engine appeared to have had its windscreen broken.

Activists said many protesters had been hurt by police batons, water cannon and by pepper spray.

According to news reports, dozens of people were hurt and hundreds arrested as demonstrators clashed with riot police.

Organizers of Wednesday's rally sought to distance themselves from those perpetrating violence.

"We have two types of actions in today's protests, two sides," Slauke Loewe, a member of Blockupy team, told Sputnik news agency. "On the one hand in today’s protest there are Blockupy actions that are within our plan, thousands of people blocking the European Central Bank because of the austerity policy, on the other hand we have the actions that are not within our action plan. That is not what we were preparing for this day. It has to be clearly said!"

Katja Kipping, leader of Germany's Left Party, which supported the Blockupy actions, stressed that "Most people demonstrated peacefully. Unfortunately not everyone stuck to the consensus for the action. We want that to change."

But the larger goal remains in place, she added: "We also want a different...social policy in Europe."

Follow the #Blockupy actions on Twitter:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Nebraska Abortion Ban 3 Votes Short Shows Why Midterms ‘Matter So Damn Much'

"Poll after poll has shown that a majority of Nebraskans support abortion rights," said the state's Democratic Party chair. "But there are radical Republican senators that will keep trying to erode reproductive rights."

Julia Conley ·


'A Lot Better Than Build Back Better': Big Business Relieved as Dems Go Light on Tax Hikes

One progressive tax expert said the Inflation Reduction Act "cannot be the final chapter in the fight against profit-shifting and offshoring practices by large corporations."

Jake Johnson ·


'What Happens When You Warm a Planet': Massive Flooding Kills At Least 8 in Seoul

"Two months' worth of rain in half a day. We are in a climate emergency," wrote meteorologist Eric Holthaus.

Jake Johnson ·


Trump Says Mar-a-Lago 'Under Siege, Raided, and Occupied' by FBI

"The accountability our democracy desperately needs for its survival might, just might, be a real possibility," said the head of a watchdog group.

Common Dreams staff ·


New Ad Against Herschel Walker Features Ex-Wife's Domestic Violence Accusations

A leader at the anti-Trump group behind the advertisement targeting the U.S. Senate candidate said that "our campaign is built around the voices of Georgia Republicans who know that he's unfit for office."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo