The City of Frankfurt has attempted to close down demonstations planned for 16-19 May in the city’s banking district by requiring that any public order discussions prior to general approval only be entered into if organisers guarantee that no violence or other illegal activity will occur, and indeed waive their right to organise effective civil disobedience.
Frankfurt Councillor for Public Order Markus Frank claims he is ready for discussions with the organisers of the upcoming Blockupy protests, but has required that they provide a waiver of blockades and violence. The Left Party (“Die Linke”) has launched legal action to overturn the Blockupy ban.
Councillor Frank has stated that “We just want to prevent riots and blockades, but not a demonstration”. If the waiver of blockades and violence is guaranteed, “I am available to talk”. The applicants proposing the days of action this May, including Die Linke, had to provide this guarantee this Monday. They now want to fight the ban.
Die Linke in the German State of Hesse has lodged a complaint against the ban at Frankfurt’s Administrative Office and an appeal has been submitted to the Administrative Court of Frankfurt “to restore the suspensive effect applied” said the Hesse Linke-chairman Ulrich Wilken on Monday evening. He stressed that the party would use all legal means “to oppose the restriction of the constitutional rights to assembly and demonstration”.
The Blockupy Alliance rejected Frank’s view that on the days of protest (16 to 19 May) violent acts are being prepared in training camps . “It’s a very biased argument, if Blockupy training is already being criminalised,” said Blockupy spokesman Martin Behrsing.
The Alliance emphasized that no escalation will come from the actions. The plan is to use colorful, diverse forms of action for three days in the city center of the financial metropolis of Frankfurt to make protest visible against the policies of impoverishment of the Troika. Blockupy spokesperson Martin Behrsing said: “Nobody shall be put in danger or injured, no uninvolved persons, no bank employees, no protest participants, and also no police persons. This is how we are preparing the actions, and this is how we are practicing in the action training.”
Furthermore, Blockupy rejected the equating of mass blockades with violence. Legally, mass blockades are not a constraint, but rather an administrative offense, as the German Federal Constitutional Court concluded in 1995 in the so-called Mutlangen decision.1
The former leader of the SPD in Hesse Andrea Ypsilanti as well as other prominent Social Democrats, Greens and Die Linke are among the signatories to a protest resolution urging the withdrawal of the effective ban on Blockupy demonstrations. The City of Frankfurt banned demonstrations against the crisis policy of the European Union on 4 May because they feared violent riots in Frankfurt.
The protest resolution declares:
This ban is a scandalous incident quite unique in the history of the Federal Republic and an open insult on the right to demonstrate guaranteed by the constitution.
We urge that the protest against the crisis politics might take place also in the banking area of Frankfurt and in front of the ECB-head quarters, which is in accordance with the longstanding and consistent case law of the Federal Administrative Court. As democrats we’re extremely appalled about this unlawful and non-democratic procedure. We’re demanding an immediately take back of this total ban.
What could take place on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, on Madrid’s Puerta del Sol or in New York’s Zucotti Park has to be possible also in Frankfurt.
In addition to Bundestag member Ypsilanti, the signatories include the Vice-Chief of the SPD faction in the Bundestag, Thomas Spies, and the National Chairman of the Young Socialists, Sascha Vogt. Among the prominent supporters from the Greens count Sina Doughan, spokeswoman for the Federal Green Youth, and Astrid Rothe-Beinlich, a member of the National Executive Committee of the Greens. From Die Linke, among others, is the Deputy National Chairman Sahra Wagenknecht.
The protest resolution also bears the signatures of many academics from France, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, Australia, Pakistan and several other countries.
- A Case note in English is available from the University of Texas here: http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/transnational/work_new/german/case.php?id=655 ↩