Blockupy Frankfurt, 2012



Tuesday, May 15

At seven o’ clock in the evening our bus to Blockupy Frankfurt should have already been burning rubber, but  the organizers of the ride, Socialistisk Ungdoms Front, a union for Danish socialist youth, were pushing the schedule in favor of several comrades, who were running late.

Summertime had kicked in early this year and the journey ahead was long, so I chose to wait outside of the shimmering bus savoring the last minutes of open-air before we split from Copenhagen.  As I stood studying the grimy brick facade of the antiquated university, which the idling bus had parked in front of, a sound of scurrying feet made me flip a distracted look in its direction; a plumpish woman, probably of Middle Eastern origin and surely old enough to be the grandmother of all of S.U.F., gasped an excuse for being tardy, after which she clumsily hurried up the front stairs of the bus. I recognized her face from some of the demos I had recently participated in and recalled a talk we once had together about the state of affairs in Iran, her home country. Most of her family members had been butchered by Iranian authorities for having resisted state oppression. As the chauffeur winked at me to jump on board, I snapped out of it and shrugged off the clamminess induced from admitting mankind’s history of and potentiality for brutality.

Half an hour later I was humming the Beastie Boys song “No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn!” with the proper substitution. The time of arrival at Frankfurt was expected to be around four o’ clock in the afternoon the next day, but the E.T.A. had been calculated with the assumption that we would be stopped at the German border for control. There were rumors that the European Union’s Schengen Agreement, which allows EU-citizens freedom of mobility between member states of the EU, would be suspended for travelers suspected to participate in the Blockupy days of action between the sixteenth and nineteenth of May.  There had already been reports of several non-German activist buses having had difficulties with or even been denied entry into Germany, and it had been announced in Internet activist fora, that the Frankfurt Occupy camp, situated in front of the European Central Bank, would be cleared the next day, Wednesday, for the purpose of creating a “safety zone” in the area. Another piece of information that I picked up during the trip concerned the different color codices of the Frankfurt police uniforms I should expect to be met by. Black: hardcore riot police. Green: regular police. Yellow: “smiley cops” allegedly in place to assist demonstrators, their conciliatory function rather being a pretext to lure out information from unaware newbies.

I hoped that we would arrive early so that I could jump straight into the impending camp-eviction fray.

Wednesday, May 16

Around noon we arrived to Taunusstraße, Frankfurt am Main, where we soon discovered that our bus driver had gotten the street name right, but unfortunately in the completely wrong area of the city.  He dropped us off smack in the middle of the swarming hive of the Capitalist insect: the Frankfurt financial metropolis, where we stood dwarfed by the imposing, reflective carapaces of the surrounding blood-sucking skyscrapers. We had barely unloaded our baggage from the bus, before a small army of police officers rushed into the street and began to kettle and push our group against the closest office building wall. They detained us for several hours, while they ran us through their database records and searched through our belongings. The six tents I had brought along where all confiscated; so long to the prize skipping one of my comrades had pulled off some months ago.   One of the officers in charge told us, with a patronizing attitude, to be grateful; regular protocol demanded removal of our sleeping gear as well. I guess it was my strange notion of justice, that caused me to fail to recognize the officer’s intended act of mercy. After a couple of hours our bus returned to pick us up and drove us to the correct Taunusstraße in Offenbach, where we where quartered by Die Linke, one of the German left-wing parties involved in Blockupy.

Later during the day we ventured into the urban wilderness in search of Hauptwache square, where Blockupy had organised the event “Rave against the system – Rave against the troika”.  The street leading from the local metro station to the square was packed with the typical consumer culture found in any Occidental commercial city centre. I pricked up my ears to pick up any rhythms and beats that might have managed to pierce through the deafening idle prattle and shuffling of shopping bags, but failed to make any distinction. In the process I spotted a couple of police officers and, presto, the rave appeared before us. The party was completely cut off for newcomers by police, which had markedly stifled the size of the crowd. Nevertheless the affinity group I was part of attempted entry. Minutes afterwards we had all received our first of many “Platzverbot”, a temporary prohibition from entering hotspots. Of course that was not the end of the story; if you can’t get through the front door, you try entering from the back. And so we did, with success. Apparently the police officers at the opposite end of the kettle, where we made our fist go, were more slack on control. I even managed to pull off a trick on one of the female officers, who obliged and informed me, among other interesting things, that on the recently past thirty-first of March, there had been an “anti-capitalist riot” in the financial district, which had amounted to smashing of tellers, bank facades, and other similar damage to office building. The cranked-up police control was allegedly a pre-emptive measure to avoid repetition hereof.

I joined the rave, by which time it had adopted the shape of a square enclosed by banners behind which people bustled to the beats of an improvised sound-system, which was pushed around in a shopping cart.

A couple of hours afterwards the crowd broke up.

Thursday, May 17

Paulsplatz is the name of the square where the former separate Germanic states, including Austria, held their first national assembly in 1848. They tried and failed to create a united German state. It was also the location for the next major Blockupy event “Take the Square”. When we arrived to the square it was crammed with demonstrators and enclosed by police. The weather was brilliant, much to the pleasure of the protesters, and I presume to the dismay of the police, who judging from their puffed, red faces, were being roasted in their black Robocop suits.  Die Polizei regularly shouted out monotonic and distorted warnings from their megaphones, most likely commands to disband, but they were deafened by the booing disapproval of the gathered protesters who moreover responded with paroles carried on the spirited waves of music from mouth harps, drums, and other percussion instruments. The  empowering cries for social justice reverberated through the morale of the assembled.

Among the many and diffuse feats of activism one especially attracted the attention of the police. An activist group tried to plant the seed of a new occupation by setting up tents in the middle of the square, but unfortunately the occupation lasted for no longer than approximately half an hour, whereupon the protective human chain we had formed was violently rammed by a police battalion, which spearheaded straight towards the tents and upon reaching them tore them violently off the spot while people were still sitting in them. The officers went berserk at the railing crowd, but withdrew quickly out into the safety of the peripheral kettle formation. Our “team flag” had  forcefully been  taken away from us, and judging from the mutual pats the young police officers were dealing out to each others’ backs, it would seem as if this whole affair simply was a game for the police force to train their riot control cadets. The crowd braced themselves once more and waited for the next attack. Everybody showed courage and steadfastness. We were many, young and old, and refused submission to authoritarianism, come what may. In the end die Polizei broke their attack formation and pulled back, and for a short time it felt like a victory for people’s power. Afterwards we held an emergency assembly to discuss our next move. The crowd had unfortunately begun to thin out, and we couldn’t keep holding the square. So we decided to try grouping with the protesters at the adjacent larger square, Römer Platz.  The connecting path between the two squares was completely cordoned off, and even though we stood long and patiently in front of the barring chain of police officers, with our arms lifted in a gesture of pacifism chanting “hier sind unsere Waffen” (Germ. for “here are our weapons”), we didn’t manage to join with our fellow activists. The situation ended with a compromise, where we agreed to leave the square in groups of five. As we were funnelled through the bottle-neck of black uniforms, I took notice of the smug and contemptuous grimace on the faces of many of the officers.

Of course we didn’t give up, and as we tried to discover an alternative entry point to Römer Platz, which die Polizei might’ve overseen, I broke out of my affinity group to step up on the nearest bench I could find in order to have a look over the enclosing police chain.  In the long after-noon shadows drawing over the square from the half-timbered, garbled rooftops of the 19th-century surrounding buildings, that had survived the levelling bombing of Frankfurt during World War II, there was nothing to be seen but a massive jumble of black and blue. The square was swarming with thousands, literally thousands, of police officers. I had never in my activist experiences witnessed such a manifestation of police power. Something radically changed in me that moment, perhaps a collapse of naive beliefs regarding revolutionary social change. Nevertheless I was overcome with an “all-or-nothing” urge, which I spontaneously chose to react on by pulling out a paper-back copy of the German federal constitution, die Bundesverfassung, and wedged it under the black leather tip of one of the officers’ boots. He stared arrogantly down at me, as I stood squatting before him, and without waiting for any further reaction on his part I pointed at the Constitution and cried out: “Alter, Schütz das Volk, und nicht das Kapital!” (Germ. “protect the people, not the capital, man”). The officer’s face hardened and he kicked the Constitution away as if it were an empty can on the sidewalk. In the moments that immediately followed I caught a glimpse of the look in the eyes of one his male colleagues, who was standing next to him; his eyes trembled by the power of the symbolic unjust act of might over right. The quote “I want world sympathy in this battle of Right against Might,” by Mahatma Ghandi, immediately sprang to my mind.

Friday, May 18

The main objective of the day was to reconnoiter the area around the E.C.B. in preparation of the Blockupy summit the next day. In the company of another member of the affinity group I was part of, we started by scouting out the peripheral areas, that were not subject to rigorous police control. We tried to blend in with the stream of ordinary pedestrians, and as I tried to round the corner of a sidewalk turning towards the financial district, I was abruptly stopped by a police officer. I tried to pull off the “unaware tourist” card, which had worked on earlier occasions, but he did not buy it. Following I employed a different strategy, which was to petition him to state the reasons for my detainment. My request was brusquely dismissed. I then pointed to the passing pedestrians and asked how come they were allowed to move freely unlike myself. Moreover I emphasized that I was an EU citizen without a criminal record, so my right was as good as any of the other pedestrians to walk into the area the officer was preventing me from entering. Again he dismissed my constitutionally based argumentation. Finally I demanded from him to state the specific pursuant law by which he based my detention on. He then leaned forward, fixed his eyes on mine, and stressed to me with a vexed voice: “because I say so.” His blunt fascist remark made me instantaneously loose every inch of respect for authority, so I flicked the anti-fascist finger at the visor. Moments afterwards I was placed in an armlock by the combined force of three officers. They charged me for assault against police officer on duty, and I received a twenty-four hour prohibition against entering the area of the city north of the river Main. Nevertheless, half an hour afterwards I had joined up with my comrades who were blocking a nearby intersection. In the light of my recent ban I chose to not participate in the human chain, since that would certainly result in incarceration upon identification, and thus exclude me from the main Blockupy event the next day. Instead I preoccupied myself with barking verbal attacks against any police officer who in their attempt to individually remove protesters from the sit-down, forced their gloved fingers into instructed facial areas, with the intent of causing as much pain as possible to the attacked protester. The sit-down had the full support of the present journalists, and locals shouted out their support from around the neighborhood. The bakery around the corner even sponsored the sit-down with Berliner Pfannkuchen served on a large golden tray. The police gave up in the end and left the area. People’s power pulled home another victory; the sit-down turned out to be a major success receiving the support of both locals and media.

Later during the day we organized yet another sit-down by one of the bridges crossing the river Main. Traffic was effectively blocked so as to hinder the police vans from entering the sit-down directly. Notwithstanding, approximately a quarter afterwards the sit-down was kettled, and along with hundreds of protesters from the nearby Union House, I stood venting my protest. The Frankfurt police were seriously down with the kettling method, which they not so discreetly attempted to widen from the sit-down to include the surrounding standing crowd. Police officers began to flank the crowd and moved slowly to encircle the spectators. I shouted out “break the kettle!” and charged downhill heading towards the nearby headquarters of the Alliance of German Trades Unions, DGB. Our collective charge mobilized an avalanche of protesters, and the cops quickly responded by cranking up their pace. The officers were way outnumbered, and as two cops rushed in front of me, I served one of them a hefty upper-body hockey ram, which knocked the officer on his/her ass; satisfaction guaranteed. We continued down the sloping road and sought refuge in the Union House, where the cops couldn’t continue their chase, given that they still hadn’t procured a search permit.   No doubt they had their allied bureaucrats working their asses off for the purpose, but the judicial expertise of the German left-wing alliance is not to be underestimated, especially when it comes to the DGB. An hour or so afterwards the kettled protesters were released one by one, and people took time to relax and recharge at the Union House, which provided free food, accommodation and solidarity.

The day was rounded-off with speeches held by Occupy renowned David Graeber and Michael Hardt at the occupied Studierendenhaus,  at Uni Campus Bockenheim.

Saturday, May 20

Around noon approximately 30.000 protesters rallied at Baseler Platz by the main railway station. Half an hour afterwards a roar of transnational solidarity against Capitalist crisis and war rumbled, and the protest march started to funnel down the planned route and continued to stretch out for kilometers  It lasted for several hours, during which the multitude of assembled interest groups expressed their protest through paroles, speeches, music, signs, banners, marionettes, costumes, props, ornamented vans, and other. The sun was shinning, the temperature was high, and pollen filled the air. Except for the flanking, ominous riot police “dressed to kill,” the parade had a festive feel to it. The march terminated at the Old Opera Square, Opernplatz, where a scene had beforehand been erected to accommodate the last speeches and concerts to wrap up four turbulent days of people’s resistance against systematic oppression.

The protest march was a huge success on its own terms: it managed to refrain from reciprocating the violence of the omnipresent riot police, which repeatedly provoked protesters, especially among the black block, with the intent of providing bourgeois media with the stereotypical misfit image to write us off and delude the public with. We succeeded at completely paralysing the central financial district; either directly or indirectly by the preventive measures taken by local authorities that closed down metro stations, tram lines, and access in general.  New friendships and alliances were forged, and activist networks intertwined and branched out empowering solidarity and future organized resistance. And last but not least: the transformation of what appeared to be a state of democracy into an explicitly authoritarian police state, proved once more how fearful global capitalism is of organized transnational activist power!



The Frankfurt Occupy camp reopened the next day, where a serendipitous encounter with a German activist, over a basket of skipped bread, led to my invitation to the Occupied Berlinnale festival in Berlin, which I gratefully accepted.

Without further ado, while exploring Berlin during a night stroll, auspiciousness led the way to my discovery of a glass wall next to the German parliament, das Bundestag, in which the nineteen basic laws of the German constitution were engraved. It was the perfect site for activism in conjunction with the violation of the constitutional rights of assembly, freedom of movement, speech, and human dignity that I witnessed during Blockupy Frankfurt. I wrote the speech below in protest hereof, and together with a couple of activist comrades from the Berlinnale we performed and filmed it in front of the glass installation Grundsetze ‘49 by sculptor Dani Karavan. Once we started x’ing out the relevant articles with black duct tape, agents in suits showed up and interrogated us. They accused me of vandalism against the Bundestag, which the installation apparently was a part of; it would seem that the duct tape could locally destroy the protective surfactant once removed. With the “writing on the wall”,  covering my back and agents encroaching upon the very articles before them, circumstances could hardly be any better to illustrate the travesty of German democracy, and we even happened to have a high-school class as our audience. We received yet another 24H platzverbot. The action was recorded, and the video is currently in the process of editing.

The speech

video of speech in front of the Reichstag

“This is Occupy broadcasting to you straight from the capital of the leading technocratic power behind Europe’s ‘crisis management’ program: Berlin, Germany.

The glass-domed building on my left me is das Bundestag, the German parliament, which is increasingly becoming the underdog of the European Union, the ECB and the IMF, collectively named: the Troika – the Russian word for “three of a kind”.

The glass wall I’m standing in front of is an installation titled Grundgesetz ’49 (which in English translates to Basic Law 1949) created by the sculptor Dani Karavan. Karavan inscribed the 19 constitutional basic laws of Germany in the wall, as a warning against political corruption; it’s a reminder to all them State ministers, officials and bureaucrats, like Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Interior minister of Hessia, Boris Rhein, that they’re only in power to serve the public interest, the common good, and to secure human need before human greed.

If one takes a look at the caption, only the artist’s name, Dani Karavan, is mentioned, and not a word about the intention of his installation.  (sceptical frown)

The main reason I’m standing here is because I saw some really bad shit during the Blockupy days of action between May 16 and May 19 in Frankfurt am Main. In these days of trans-national activism, tens of thousands of pissed-off people ventured to the seat of the European Central Bank, to protest against corporate power and the mass poverty, disenfranchisement and economic blackmailing the Troika’s austerity policy is creating for all countries in the EU, especially Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.

It’s a row of falling domino bricks and we’ve only seen the beginning of the collapse.

The international organization, Attac, provides the following info about the bank bailouts in Germany:

“The public cost of bank bailouts in Germany alone amounted to 40 billion euros.” I repeat 40 billion euros.

During the Blockupy days, the city of Frankfurt turned into a police state with more than 5000 riot control police officers  on the streets, and the gross display of police authoritarianism has probably amounted to a tab of considerable size for the German tax payers.

Let me spend a moment to put some perspective on this situation:

The German people paid 40B Euros to bail out banksters, who in their insatiable quest for profit screwed up in gambling away a rather large share of private and public assets. Okay?

Then the people, whom the banksters screwed over with the help of criminal politicians and bureaucrats, are prevented from exercising their basic constitutional right of assembly, speech and demonstration. Not only are these people prevented they are forced to pay millions of Euros to the salaries of overkill police control.

Get it?

We get screwed big time, and then we get screwed some extra, because we object to getting major screwed in the first place.

Let’s take a look at the first article.

Article 1

[Human dignity – Human rights – Legally binding force of basic rights]

(1) Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.

(2) The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in the world.

The harassment, chasing, beating and hospitalization due to the brutality of Frankfurt riot police against the Blockupy protesters fully undermined any concept of human dignity. Among the worst report of police brutality is the beating of a seventeen-year old girl, whom police officers chased, knocked down, and beat so hard that she broke two of heir ribs. Another report is of a male protester whose spleen burst due to police baton beating.

Regardless hereof, the concept of dignity under the conditions of capitalism is a contradiction in terms unless understood as in fighting the system.

(X)’ed out

Article 5

[Freedom of expression, arts and sciences]

(1) Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing and pictures, and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accesible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.

I hope you’re getting this YouTube.

(OUT OF =====)

Article 8

[Freedom of assembly]

(1) All Germans shall have the right to assemble peacefully and unarmed without prior notification or permission.

(2) In the case of outdoor assemblies, this right may be restricted by or pursuant, (in accordance) to a law.

With regards to part 1, the prohibition orgy in Frankfurt imposed by Interior Minister Boris Rhein and his associates,  along with the overkill riot police battalion, fits a banana republic, not a state of democracy.

And in case of the second part of the article, please specify the law invoked to restrict the right of the first part. Any argumentation on the basis of preemptive measures is untenable and comletely illegitimate.

Who defies whom?  The state that bans the exercise of basic democratic rights, or the people who disobey an illegitimate ban?

Article 11

[Freedom of movement]

(1) All Germans shall have the right to move freely throughout the federal territory.

(2) This right may be restricted only by or pursuant to a law, and only in cases in which the absence of adequate means of support would result in a particular burden for the community, or in which such restriction is necessary to avert an imminent danger to the existence or the free democratic basic order of the Federation or of a Land, to combat thedanger of an epidemic, to respond to a grave accident or natural disaster, to protect young persons from serious neglect, or to prevent crime.

Interior Minister of Hesse, Boris Rhein, please explain the legal basis by which buses and individual people were denied, delayed and/or restricted in some sense from entering Frankfurt and specific areas within Frankfurt.? Explain by virtue of which law several peaceful activist buses  were escorted by police back to their city of departure. Explain how the state besides rudely violating the constitutional right to assembly denied average citizens and independent journalists access to public spaces.

The list of encroachment on our basic rights is long and tragic, and as experience shows, the proverb

“Know your rights, otherwise your ignorance will be used against you,” does not suffice in times of capitalist crisis.

And to all those political progressives and radicals who do not feel represented by these constitutional basic rights:

“Ich kan mich nicht erinnern, mich auch eure Regeln geeignet zu haben.”

which in english translates to:

“I do not remember having ever agreed to your rules.”

Angel Merkel, Christine Lagarde, Boris Rhein and all you criminals against humanity who continue to enforce a governance that bleeds the people you’re supposed to love, serve and protect, bow to justice or justice will seek you out. The restrictions you continuously impose on transnational solidarity bears proof of your fear for the justice that the people united, in these times of capitalist crisis, will bring upon a system of exploitation, oppression and murder.

With compassion and in solidarity to all victims of class struggle, peace.

Occupy out.”



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