Yesterday I came back from Frankfurt, the financial centre of Europe, home to the European Central Bank (ECB), where I participated in the demonstrations against the attack on social and economic rights as a supposed solution to the economic crises, against the Austerity Treaty, the ESM, the Troika, the Six Pack, and for a truly democratic Europe, which is based on the principles of equality, solidarity and sustainability, where people are more important than money, where the power of banks and large corporations is curtailed so that in the future never again we will see these obscene profits be privatised while the inevitable losses are socialised.
Organisers had called on people to participate in four days of protest, including a peaceful blockade of the ECB on friday, an act of civil disobedience that would symbolise the level of discontent and determination of the protesters. Authorities responded by prohibiting all forms of protest during wednesday, thursday and friday.
When arriving to Frankfurt on thursday we felt as if we entered a civil war zone. Five thousand police from all over germany were brought to enforce the ban on 18 different peaceful manifestations, including public lectures, marches, workshops, a street rave and a protest camp in a public park. The city had been brought to a near-complete paralysis by dozens of police roadblocks on all roads leading into the center, the closing down of metro stations, tram lines and most of the shops, offices and banks. Buses carrying suspected protesters from other cities and abroad were detained on the highway and were forced to return to their origins under police escort. Suspected demonstrators entering the city through the main train station were illegally stopped and held captive for hours.
Over the course of wednesday, thursday and friday demonstrators determined to fight for their democratic and human right to the freedoms of expression and assembly gathered peacefully in different squares and streets around the city which was now enveloped in a surreal atmosphere. It never took long for the robocops to arrive, surround the demonstrator and hold them for hours. These stand offs ended by either just’ registering personal identification data of each protester, or handing out a so called ‘platz verbot’, which is a complete personal prohibition to enter the city for up to four days. Imprisonment of the demonstrator also was one of the possibilities, and the only one of which we know the statistics: four hundred people were detained. After three days of police mass intimidation and violation of constitutional rights the police cynically declared that it was they that should be thanked for the fact that demonstrators had remained completely non violent.
On saturday indignant protesters descended on the city to participate in the only permitted demonstration. While 5.000 robocop police watched, over 30.000 people marched peacefully through the hot streets, denouncing the trampling of our democratic rights, demanding a different Europe, and expressing solidarity with the citizens of Greece, Spain and other countries that so unjustly are now being made to pay for the crisis with their health, education and pensions.
May this be one in a series of many demonstrations over the months and years that will follow in this struggle, may the people of Europe wake up, may we form a European and global democratic movement, an alliance of solidarity, for international and intergenerational justice, which is dignified and firm in the face of repression, which will break the power of the banks and the large corporations, where the concept of growth is redefined in social and ecological terms instead of as a hurried, blind and ever-increasing ransacking of our only planet and its finite resources. For a Europe and world in which people instead of profit will rule, and a healthy environment is preserved for our children, our children’s children, and hundreds and thousands of future generations to come!
- Videoimpressie demonstratie zaterdag 19 mei 2012 (2:04 min)
- Videoimpressie blokkade vrijdag 18 mei 2012 (2,37 min)
- Videoimpressie demonstraties donderdag 17 mei 2012 (1:46 min)
- Video revealing police – demonstrators ratio saturday 19th of may (2:04 min)
Recommended background reading:
- Occupy the European Central Bank -Al Jazeera
- After Austerity – Joseph E. Stiglitz
- 10 things you need to know about the ‘Fiscal Compact’
- The Fiscal Compact Bypasses Democracy and the Rule of Law
- Heist of the century: Wall Street’s role in the financial crisis
- How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform
- Campaign against the Austerity Treaty
- For a better Europe
- EU in crisis – another Europe is possible
- EU: Treaty of debt (ESM)
- Trevor Evans @ Corporate Europe Observatory EU in crisis conference