Hundreds arrested at ‘Blockupy Frankfurt’ protests

photo_1337363502840-2-2-Quicklook.jpgA group of demonstrators block a street as the police try to carry away Occupy activists in Frankfurt Main
AFP/DPA – Boris Roessler

Police arrested more than 400 people in Frankfurt on Friday as thousands of anti-capitalist protesters defied a protest ban in Germany’s financial centre.

A group calling itself “Blockupy Frankfurt” had called for four days of protests, from Wednesday to Saturday, to paralyse Germany’s financial capital and hinder the work of private banks and the European Central Bank.

But the financial institutions reported little disruption. Many were closed for a public holiday Thursday and the banks were protected by a strong police presence.

Several protests took place Friday outside the ECB’s huge Eurotower building in Frankfurt, as well as in the city centre, a police spokeswoman said.

Police said most demonstrations passed calmly, while some activists claimed those who had been arrested were left for hours in police buses.

The city’s mayor banned most demonstrations over public order concerns, though protesters have been given permission to march on Saturday.

Demonstrators hailed their action a success, with “Blockupy” spokesman Erik Buhn telling German television channel Phoenix: “We have revitalised civil disobedience.”

Since Wednesday, about 5,000 police have been constantly deployed in Frankfurt and several streets were eerily quiet Friday after metro stations were closed and shops barricaded.

On Wednesday, police cleared out a group of protesters from the “Indignant” movement who had camped for seven months in front of the ECB.

“Blockupy” activists hope tens of thousands of demonstrators will show up on Saturday.

Commerzbank, one of Germany’s top banks, which occupies one of the biggest skyscrapers in Frankfurt, has said it would close until Sunday.

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