Frankfurt, M31: Anti-capitalism demonstration in the financial centre of Germany

An initial brief report, based on M31 organization’s announcement

An estimated 6,000 protesters took to the streets in Frankfurt am Main on March 31st, ‘European day of action against capitalism’. In the same context, manifestations were held in other cities, such as Madrid, Athens (with a really poor turnout), Milan, Zagreb, Vienna, Utrecht, Moscow and Kiev.

During the demo, paint bombs and stones were thrown at the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB), the police headquarters and buildings of temporary work agencies. The police used this as a pretext in order to attack demonstrator blocks with batons and pepper spray; several people got injured, some significantly. The cops then managed to split the entire rear third of the demo for about 1.5 hours, until mobilizations were practically over. The protest march that was scheduled to move towards the construction site of the new ECB building seemed impossible at the time, so the crowd broke up in the borough of Ostend.

However, more than 200 demonstrators were rounded up on the street. In fact, cops kettled people for more than 6 hours!

The legal aid EA (Ermittlungsausschuss) was denied access to the surrounded blocks, or contact with the registered organizer of the protest. Every lawyer who tried to help the trapped protesters got send away by police squads. Mass detentions followed (the exact number of detainees or possible charges have not yet been released). At least one prison bus reportedly drove off transferring protesters to detention centres called GESA (you usually get out of the Gefangenensammelstelle after hours; that is if they don’t press charges against you). M31 organizers have denounced the police violence and mass arrests in Frankfurt, and tried to provide legal aid for the arrestees.

Before the demo came to a final end, hundreds of protesters went through the city centre, where militant actions were carried out against office and business buildings, as well as against the Römer (one of Frankfurt’s landmarks) and the Employment Agency.

A few updates and remarks from our comrades’ perspective, who took to the streets during the Frankfurt M31 demo

The demo started very offensive. Many people were hooded from the very beginning (what is quite seldom on such occasions in Germoney lately) and prepared with stones, paints, smoke bombs and fireworks. About 200 metres after the starting point, the demo was passing from the (old) headquarters of the European Central Bank, which were attacked with the aforementioned means. The cops were present in front of the entrance, couldn’t react however, because metal grids (Hamburger Gitter) that were placed in front of the bank were hindering them.

The demo continued without a visible presence of cops and then passed outside another bank that was smashed, a luxury hotel that was attacked with paint bombs and several expensive shops, which were also targeted. It was then that the cops stopped the demo, and the organization’s crew called out to calm down since their very interest was to reach the final point of the demonstration route. However, a police station was totally smashed by protesters, and further provocations by the cops did not remain unanswered.

In a narrower street, the pigs began organizing a cordon at both sides of the demo, and it was a matter of time when they would try to split the demo. On the first glance, it seemed like they wanted to pick people from the crowd, and many people did not seem to realize the systemic character of the police assault. So, then the demo was split in three parts: the main first part, a surrounded small part and the targeted last part of the demo (that was a bit more in black block-style than the other two). After some time, the cops decided to let the first two parts reunite. But people at the rear of the demo (about 200 protesters) faced unprecedented repression by the police forces. They were held for 6-7 hours on the street (!) until 1 o’clock after midnight. When it got colder (in the night it was around 0 degrees) the cops supplied ‘radiant heaters’ and ‘mobile toilettes’. According to eyewitnesses, people were forced to undress completely (even without underwear) to be searched. The access of lawyers was for hours long denied by the cops. (We call for eyewitnesses to give us further information about this inhuman treatment.)

Distinct blocks, such as the FAU blocks and antifascist groups, can be well recognized in circulated photos, nevertheless the bulk of participants in the demo were quite heterogeneous. There was not a black block in the ‘original’ sense, but hooded and offensive fighters were all around the demo. That made it very difficult for the cops to identify from which point riots could be launched. Beforehand, small paper notes were supposedly spread to people considered ‘more reliable’, reading that demonstrators who wish to continue action at the ending point should gather in the last block of the demo. So, if that stands, it must be assumed that undercover cops may have read this written message too. In addition, a truck with a sound system, where music and speeches were heard, was reportedly searched by the cops. That vehicle was also in the last third part, which got kettled. Another important fact is that the cops denied the organization’s medics to check encircled protesters.

In the mean time, the demonstration remained still for nearly two hours, trying to reunite the bulk of protesters and to push police forces out of the protest march. But the cops’ presence was reckoned too strong to be fought. Finally, there was the plan to change the route and to turn back to the city centre and approach the isolated comrades from another side. This plan was (in our eyes) a big failure, because the cops stopped the march at another point and dispersed the demonstration in the nowhere of Frankfurt. Thus, neither the new ECB tower was ever reached, nor the comrades were factually supported.

However, from the ending point, smaller blocks re-grouped and turned, moving towards the central shopping street. On their way demonstrators smashed the Employment Agency (and attempted to burn it down as well), while the city hall and another police station were attacked rigorously. The police seemed to be totally unprepared for this counterattack, so then there were almost no squads in the centre. Several shops in commercial streets were attacked as well as police cars that were parked close by.

During the night, action continued. Banks close to the university campus and another shopping complex were smashed. There was also a spontaneous demo to the spot where the comrades were still surrounded and detained. According to reports and talks among friends, this particular demo was stopped and encircled by police forces.

Throughout the day, several dozens of people were caught, more or less in mass arrests.

Contra Info from the streets

Although we choose not to follow, let alone rely on commercialized media such as the twitter, in this case we were almost stuck with ‘tweets’ in search of up-to-the-minute info, so we might as well add here a few things that circulated, in constant need of clarification: The kettled protesters were brought to cop stations in Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Offenbach and Wiesbaden; when the last detainees on the street were transported away, the kettle operation was over, and supporters started calling for solidarity gatherings in front of the various detention centres; one by one, people were released from the different GESAs… Also, according to some reports on linksunten.indymedia, the kettled protesters who were gradually transferred to different police detention centres across the entire region were not left alone until they were all freed by about 4 o’clock in the early morning of April 1st. (Hope everyone is doing okay.)

After the central demo and the active night hours, the Frankfurt police spoke of a total 465 arrests and at least 15 police officers injured —with one cop allegedly in intensive care unit. Apart from seeing an ‘official’ number of detainees in the hellish Press release by the police (rather than the demo’s organizers or the legal aid itself), for days we faced a serious lack of confirmed and independent updates on whether these detentions had turned into arrests, or on possible charges against detainees. That we feel signifies the need of strengthening counter-information among the oppressed during both major and small-scale manifestations.

The struggle goes on, in Germoney and across all borders.

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