Blockupy Day 3: 18 May – German media: “Blockupy has already won”

by | 18 May 2012

23.38 CET: Napoleon once said: “you should never disturb the enemy when he is the middle of making a mistake”. This seems to adequately describe today’s Blockupy activities in which targeted and pertinent Blockupy action simply offered a leitmotif for the furious, absurd crackdown by the authorities. Again and again observers were treated to the spectacle of 5,000 police officers racing around Frankfurt to disburse small pockets of peaceful protesters.
The political damage had already been done yesterday in the Paulsplatz; today Blockupistas effectively adopted the stance of peaceful bemusement in the face of jackbooted pomposity.
As the day wore on the mainstream press, shocked into second thoughts by the noble images before the Paulskirche, tipped in favour of the Blockupy Alliance, calling victory for Blockupy in one case or at least distancing themselves from Boris Rhein’s macho-politics in others. The failed mayoral candidate Rhein looked pathetic as he demanded that taxpayers thank him for “saving” Frankfurt.
And now, to top off the day, the police have declared Frankfurt University a “danger zone”. They will be toasting that appelation at one of the spiritual homes of critical theory for years to come.
Gute Nacht! Bis Morgen.
23:17 CET: STOP PRESS Blockupy reports that the police have declared Frankfurt University a danger zone (Gefahrenzone) entitling them to search all on the property. An honour indeed. A lawyer is on the way to the scene although reliable sources saying no escalation is currently foreseeable.
20:08 CET: From our CLT Rep at the Hardt-Graeber talk:
Graeber: in the inversion of the political subject, aka horizontal/direct democratic form, we can find new subjectivities.
20:03 CET: police claim 400 people are in custody. They omit to mention the grounds for detention.
19:55 CET: this is also something, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the traditional paper of Frankfurt’s banking class, has written an article expressing its “unease” about the acceptability of the total protest ban. here in German. The article is notably accompanied by an image of a protester holding the German constitution as a defence against police repression. For those trying to place the FAZ on the conservative spectrum, it only accepted to put pictures on its front page 4 or 5 years ago.
19:51 CET: our CLT rep at the Hardt lecture reports:
Hardt congratulates us on closing the banks. What is important here is not its solidarity with other movements, but with the singularity/specificity of this action. The crisis is about us here and now – in Marx’s sense. We share subjective impoverishment, not just financial.
19:49 CET: activists have blockupied the German embassy in Rome in solidarity with Frankfurt demonstrators.
19:48 CET: Michael Hardt congratulates activists – “the banks and police have blocked themselves”.
19:43 CET: There seems to be a party in the popular Gallus district of Frankfurt which lies SW the main station and outside the protest-ban zone.
18:51 CET: Germany’s well-known Spiegel is running an article “Blockupy has already won” even as Boris Rhein demands that taxpapyers be thankful for his policy of overkill.
18:49 CET: spontaneous demo is underway in Offenbach, the former leather industry town which sits upriver on the edge of Frankfurt (ESE from the centre).
18:45 CET: remember, 19:00 local time, Graeber and Hardt speak at Bockenheimer Warte campus. CLT rep will be there.
18:35 CET: current status in Frankfurt:
  • workshops at Bockenheimer Warte campus of the university proceeded peacefully without police intervention. About 1,000 people were in the central square of the complex, on rooftops, or listening to talks on debt and British trades unionism in the tent.
  • 15 or so police vans parked on the edge of the protest-banzone near the campus.
  • There are rumours that demonstrators are travelling to a protest outside of Frankfurt.
  • Several activists have acquired bikes and are cylcing between spontaneous demos across Frankfurt.
  • Within the commercial zone around Hauptwache there are clearly manner people linked to Blockupy milling about in 2s and 3s.
  • A spontaneous musical demo is taking place in the Zeil, with about 50 people actively participating, and one police vehicle in close attendance (plus several store guards).
  • David Graeber was able to give his lecture outside of the protest-ban zone at Bockenheimer Warte/KOZ.
15:50 CET: —–liveblog paused for workshop——
Von Rüdiger Heescher via Facebook: &#8220;Wenn die Polizei schon mit Deutsche Bank Logo herumläuft, dann weiss man doch was Sache ist. Das ist doch ehrlich.&#8221;</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Herzliche Grüße,</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Florian Raffel</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Occupy Aktivist aus Berlin<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
und<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
15:42 CET: people have not been able to help remarking that the riot police
are now running around with the Deutsche Bank logo on their backs! [some tweeters are taking this literally – it is a joke /ed.]
15:30 CET: the FT is now reporting that Spain has instructed Goldman Sachs to advise on the recapitalisation of the troubled Bankia bank. According to Goldman’s in-house jargon, that presumably makes the Spanish government “muppets”. Good grief.
15:22 CET: the Willy-Brandt Platz livestream below has now become a Schweizerplatz livestream. It seems the HR camerateam have taken the lift to a higher floor of the ECB Tower and are now using zoom to film down Schweizerstrasse which leads to Schweizerplatz.
15:16 CET: the Bild newspaper [sic] which replicates the UK’s Sun for sensationalism is running a story about the first stones being thrown in Frankfurt. This rumour was being spread by one person on Twitter and was quickly spotted by other users as nonsense. There have been no reports by known sources, the local press, or for that matter the police, of any such events.

15:05 CET: the dispersal of small groups across Frankfurt has unsurprisingly resulted in reports of multiple kettles and other police action across Frankfurt (Baselerplz; Rathenauplz; Messe; DGB Haus…) and also its sister town Sachsenhausen on the leftbank of the river Main. In the latter case there is a group at Schweizerplatz, which is blessed with a Deutsche Bank branch and U-bahn station (see above).

14:54 CET: The Blockupy Alliance have been in talks with teh authorities to confirm the route of tomorrow’s judicially approved march. The route:

At 12:00 demonstartors may assemble at Baslerplatz before the main railway station, before setting of at 13:00. They will proceed south to the river and then follow the rightbank upstream to Kurt-Schumacherstr. which is on the farside of the city centre, before proceeding to Konstablerwache which is the east end of teh Zeil shopping street.

The demonstrators will proceed northwards to just before the old city defences before swinging west along Bleichstrasse then Hochstrasse, which leads to the Old Opera square, where the demonstration will terminate.

The logic of the route is clear enough – the financial district (and ECB) will be avoided and protesters will pass through parts of the city used by ordinary Frankfurters.

14:38 CET: the Guardian has bothered to report on the Blockupy protests in its business liveblog. Admittedly the Graun had published a comment by John Holloway but has not covered the constitutional austerity being practised in what it regularly regards as a model social economy. Strangely, the Guardian is taking its cue from a Wall Street Journal Deutschland reporter. Had they looked more closely at local news sources, the lack of obvious demonstrations is not surprising given that a total ban is being enforced by 5,000 police and road closures. As we have noted, people are in Frankfurt’s centre but maintaining a low profile in small groups.

14:19 CET: Hessisch rundfunk is worried that it is encountering small groups of demonstrators across the city who are unable to locate demos and are frustrated.

13:21 CET: David Graeber has been banned from giving a public lecture at the “new” opera building (aka the Schauspielhaus) opposite the ECB.

13:08 CET: Former German environment minister Toepfer has been speaking in Mainz. He warns that “markets should not be allowed to take control – this will damage democracy.”

13:03 CET: Franfurter Rundschau is reporting chaotic cat-and-mouse scenes outside the railway station. About 300 demonstrators there.

12:54 CET: Willy-Brandt Platz cleared.

12:38 CET: the Guardian newspaper, which seems not to be terribly interested in Frankfurt, reports that Angela Merkel has formed Greece’s stand-in President to tell the country that it needs a functioning government. Naturally the German government is functioning perfectly in Frankfurt this week /sarcasm.

12:36 CET: a further livestream apparently filmed from Mario Draghi’s office.

12:10 CET: livestream from in front of the ECB. With admirable English translation. Human mic declares solidarity with police and calls on them to use their minds and disobey their orders.

12:00 CET: Stock exchanges are down over 1% across Europe. The FT reports that JP Morgan, which recently lost USD2bn, is sitting on a further USD100bn of junk bonds. The FTSE 100 is entering technical “correction” territory.

11:57 CET: Blockupy report that Michael Hardt has managed to reach the front of the ECB.

11:54 CET: the demonstrators being moved W have however commenced another sitdown protest.

11:48 CET: the Blockupy spokesperson tweets that the blocking of the ECB has been successfully concluded and calls on people to attend this afternoon’s workshops (see beloz) and to prepare for tomorrow’s judicially approved demonstration.

11:41 CET: It seems a group of activists has blockupied the German consulate in Venice.

11:40 CET: police clearing the ECB demonstrate out and pushing protesters down towards the main station.

11:33 CET: sitdown protest has begun at Willy-Brandt Platz. Police have asked for the 150 or so remaining demonstrators to leave. Hessisch Rundfunk reporting that 190 protesters have already been taken into custody, and that the autobahn A648 has been closed by the police.

11:07 CET: Michael Hardt, theorist with Antonio Negri of the concepts of multitude and empire, is also making his way to the ECB. Incidentally, theoretical and political pieces on debt and constituent power can be read on this very blog.

11:00 CET: David Graeber is making his way to the ECB. His book, Debt shows how the debt concept has stood at the very heart of human society since the Sumerian city states, but argues that societies have historically given us many examples of how to control and mollify the worst excesses of a debt culture. Well worth reading.
10:56 CET: as the ECB blockade persists, former ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet has proposed a bankruptcy mechanism for Eurozone states whereby “the EU usurps the fiscal policy of the state”. Assuming he is not being terribly original, I can only interpret this as a plan modeled on insolvency administration. This is a way in which a court appointed accountant takes control of the running of a business and attempts to save it from collapse (or at least to wind it down safely). To some degree this is de facto the case already in Greece and Italy, and indirectly Ireland, where there has been a scandal after the budget was run past Berlin officials first.
10:39 CET: police have issued a second warning to leave Willy-Brandt Platz. About 300 people there, but there are more on the other side of the kettle in Muencherstrasse. Police loud speaker – “you are carrying out a forbidden demonstration”. People told to leave but only on the south side, towards the river.
10:29 CET: people kettled on west side of Frankfurt’s new opera by ECB (corner Muenchnerstr.).
10:26 CET: Long long line of riot police jogs along to Willy-Brandt Platz over Neuer Mainzer. ECB is blocked. People trying to moved.
09:57 CET: kettle apparently taken off at the Messe Turm though people being hauled away. Up to 200 people at WIlly-Brandt Platz.
09:49 CET: 60 activists on the bridge by the ECB kettled and removed. A tent camp on the banks of the main has been cleared away.
09:28 CET: blockade spontaneously forms in Willy-Brandt Platz (home of the ECB).
09:22 CET: several police vans race past now, heading west.

09:20 CET: Further kettle of a 150 person splinter group near the Messe Tower, which incidentally is the home of Reuters and Goldman Sachs. Reports of three kettles now in the area.

09:02 CET: Kettle now on at Beethovenstrasse.
08:51 CET: 1,000 people now on Westendstrasse, tuirning onto Beethovenstrasse which leads north towards the old Uni campus at Bockenheimer Warte. Police are attempting a kettle.
08:34 CET: the first spontaneous and banned demo of 500 people sets off from Kaiserstrasse (the road that links the main railway station to Hauptwache via the ECB) up Duesseldorferstrasse.
08:33 CET: important document of the demonstration for the right to demonstrate and the resulting police brutality yesterday at
08:28 CET: In amonst the conservative rhetoric of mindless rioting which is being used to justify the clampdown, it can be easy to lose sight of the widespread calls for reform of the financial system from all quarters. London’s Financial Times ahs been hammering on for four years now about how something must be done, with the charge being led by Martin Wolff, Nouriel Roubini and Gillian Tett (who famously called the crisis).
Their articles sit behind a pay wall, but, by way of example, the following FT video on Karl Marx is illustrative of the discussions: Robin Blackburn, who features in the discussion, has been writing excellent summaries of the crisis for the New Left Review.
Another example of what is going on behind the lines is the considered opinion of a certain English barrister, who argues cogently that it is now impossible to regulate “Delta One” style markets because the nanosecond trading simply is beyond the capacity of humans to make a judgment (ref coming).
Meanwhile in the Journal of International Banking Law we find an examination of private monetary systems in which small groups invent their own systems of exchange as an alternative to using banks. Occupy Frankfurt were running such a scheme before they were cleared.
David Graeber, who is speaking in Frankfurt today, has also done interesting work on the anthropology of debt and is calling for a debt jubilee. Steven Keane has argued for a lumpsum cash credit to be given to all citizens (rather than banks) which must be first applied against debt, the balance to be spent or saved as the owner wishes.
The are also very many critiques of the ineptitude of the bank bailouts. As just one example, under the US Tarp scheme money was pumped into bank holding companies. Goldman Sachs however did not have such a holding company structure – shareholders invested straight into the operating company, which is an eminently more responsible structure. The U.S. Government thus forced Goldman Sachs to set up a holding company, had GS flip all the investors into that holdco, and then poured taxpayer funds in. Why?
08:05 CET: Above is the scene from a layby NE of Frankfurt. As yesterday the police are stopping vehicles carrying anyone who is suspected of wiching to demonstrate.

07:59 CET: above the police presence at the main railway station.

07:42 CET: Blockupy are calling for people to move to the inner city slowly, and to await further instructions.

07:35 CET: Blockupy Alliance have announced their plans for today, which as ever are subject to the general prohibition of the authorities:

Blockupy ECB
Land-theft rally and siege of Deutsche Bank.
Taxes, central bank policy and public debt. Strategy-Workshop of the European Attac Network & Joint Social Conference (u.a. mit Franco Carminati, Attac Belgien, und Karsten Peters, Attac Deutschland). DGB-Haus, Raum 4
Discussion about debt audit und on debt forgiveness with Angela Klein (Sozialistische Zeitung), Sonia Mitralia (Kommission für ein Schuldenaudit, Griechenland), N.N. (lokales Schuldenkomitee, Frankreich), Stephan Lindner (attac Deutschland). Festsaal des Studierendenhauses, Uni Campus Bockenheim.
The struggle for social standards and rights in Europe – unions report. Discussion with Sara Tomlinson, Yiannis Bournous, Dumitru Fornea , Daniel Nieto Bravo, Jutta Krellmann (MdB DIE LINKE). IL Tent, Uni Campus Bockenheim.
An alternative summit of social movements – why and how? Joint Social Conference. DGB-Haus, Room 4
Discussion with David Graeber (Occupy New York / Goldsmiths College der University of London) and Christian Felber (Attac Österreich). Schauspiel Frankfurt at Willi-Brand-Platz
Alternatives against the ruling Crisis-politics. Discussion mit Michael Weißenfeld, Jochen Nagel (GEW), Jennifer Hopert, Janine Wissler (MdL, DIE LINKE), Sabine Zimmermann (MdB, DIE LINKE). Festsaal des Studierendenhauses, Uni Campus Bockenheim.
Critique of Left-reformism. TOP Berlin. UG Tent behind the Studierendenhaus Uni Campus Bockenheim.
OccupySpring, an event by the Interventionist Left with support of RLS, with David Graeber (Occupy New York/ Goldsmiths College der University of London), Michael Hardt (Duke University) und Sandro Mezzadra (Universit? di Bologna). Festsaal des Studierendenhauses, Uni Campus Bockenheim.
Europe against the dictatorship of banks and business! After teh elections in Greece and France. Forms of resistance and alternatives for soical movements. An event organised by the European Attac-Network with Verveine Angeli (Attac Frankreich), Thanos Contargyris (Attac Hellas) und Zeitzeugen aus Attac Spanien, Attac Österreich, Attac Portugal. Moderation: Hugo Braun (Attac Deutschland). With French and English translations. Gewerkschaftshaus, großer Saal.

07:18: Good morning. It is overcast, cold and raining in Frankfurt am Main. This does not seem to have deterred Blockupy, however, who are planning a demonstration before the European Central Bank. The financial district is once again the focus and sirens can already be heard above the noise of traffic after yesterday’s Ascension Day holiday. Spotters have noted Berlin Police vans on the Untermain Bridge that links well-to-do Sachsenhausen to the heart of the financial district.


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