Blockupy Frankfurt: The European Union in the Streets

Heavy rains further south make the river swell – this is the first time that I can see the river from this neck of the woods, as it has flooded all the planned areas, and possibly somewhat beyond. But the flood might be receding now.

The river, getting near the railway construction site, east of Verden, May 31, 2013

The river, getting near the railway construction site, east of Verden, May 31, 2013

A flood of a different kind was stopped in Frankfurt on Saturday. According to a blog on German newspaper Der Freitag, 400 protesters were closed in by the police, allegedly for being “masked”. The “Freitag” blogger asked police for the reasons to close in on the demonstrators, and was told that disguises were the reason. A reporter with the Hessian state broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk asked if the two or three maroons from within the protesters were the reason and was told that the police were not aware of maroons. Shortly after, however, the maroons had been cited as the main reason for closing in on the demonstrators. They’ll always find a reason, the blogger concludes.

German television’s channel 2 (ZDFhad some pictures (apparently on Saturday night, will be taken down after five to seven days), and here are some by Russia Today/Novosti.

A commenter thanked the Freitag blogger for his first-hand account from Frankfurt. She had googled for critical coverage for hours, and had found very little, she wrote. Even umbrellas – symbols for the eurozone bailouts – had been counted as illegal ways of disguise: I cannot tolerate that my taxes are used to interfere with my right to demonstrate, the commenter wrote.

The protest was stopped after a few hundred meters, writes Neues Deutschland:

One doesn’t have to agree with every demand from the Blockupy movement to understand the enormous political dimension expressed by the police approach. People who have to define umbrellas, sunglasses and small banners as “passive armature” so as to stop a peaceful demonstration, can’t rely on a claim of having safeguarded some kind of public order.

Man muss nicht mit jeder der Forderungen der Blockupy-Bewegung übereinstimmen, um die enorme politische Dimension zu erkennen, die in dem Vorgehen der Frankfurter Polizei zum Ausdruck kommt. Wer Schirme, Sonnenbrillen und kleine Transparente zu „passiven Bewaffnungen“ erklären muss, um eine friedlichen Protestzug zu stoppen, der kann sich nicht darauf berufen, irgendeine öffentliche Ordnung gewährleistet zu haben.

Even the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) doesn’t suggest that there had been violence – there had, however, been members of radical groups (Anhänger radikaler Gruppen) within. And FAZ quotes observers: the police approach had been completely disproportionate.

The Frankfurter Rundschau reporter found it difficult to judge the situation – the Blockupiers had refused to name a responsible or speaker and to discuss the route of the demonstration – some “paint bombs” (Farbbeutel)  had been thrown, and at least some bank employees had been stopped from getting to work.There was a European dimension to the protest, with people from other European countries taking part.

Many reactions, even far away from Frankfurt, are very ntural: reactions from people who speak as parents and friends of those affected by the crisis, who begin to see the shattering power in the youth unemployment statistics elsewhere in Europe, and their relevance to Germany itself.

That’s a very different European union from the one we used to know from the media. It may become the union of the future.

____________

Related

» Clashes at Blockupy protest, The Guardian, June 1, 2013
» Plus ca change, plus c’est Franco, November 17, 2012
» German army’s crisis role, BBC, Aug 17, 2012

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