The opening of the new European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt has been overshadowed by protests and violence, including an anti-capitalist group calling themselves ‘Blockupy’.
As the multi-million pound tower block, which had to be redesigned because it did not contain enough space for all the staff, attempted to launch itself onto the Frankfurt skyline with dignity, groups of protesters dressed as clowns and bearing signs saying ‘European Bull Breeding Operation’ (EZB)descended, the Daily Mail reports.
Thousands of police were on standby in the event of any violence, as organisers chartered a train from Berlin to Frankfurt and buses from other areas of Germany.
The Blockupy alliance says activists plan to try to blockade the new headquarters and to disrupt what they term ‘capitalist business as usual’.
Hundreds of police officers formed a blockade around the bank to protect it from anti-austerity campaigners, who link the poverty and suffering seen in countries such as Greece directly with the work of the bank.
Riot police said the trouble was caused by a minority of violently-minded activists and that the bulk of the protesters conducted themselves peacefully ahead of a rally in the city’s main square, Roemerberg. Some blocked bridges across the Main River or thoroughfares.
Official sources say that one officer was injured by stones being thrown near the city’s ‘Old Opera’ opera house and several private vehicles were burned overnight as well as two police cars set on fire at a police station in the city centre. A third car, parked a short distance from the ECB, was also left burning.
About 10,000 protesters were expected to take part as the hugely over budget building, costing 1.4bn euro, was officially opened. Freedom of Information requests managed to find out that the governing council approved spending which took the costs 400 million euro over the initial ceiling.
On 6th November, project managers went begging to the governing council, admitting its overspend and wanting more cash from the Brussels slush fund. According to the documents, “The current Overall Investment Cost ceiling stands at €1,252 million . . . supplementary funds will definitely be needed soon,” adding, “a single budget increase is preferable.”
Frankfurt police say the participants included trade unions and Germany’s Left Party.