Thousands expected at German austerity protest

May 30, 2013, 1:21 PM EDT
Police officers build barricades in front of the European Central Bank, ECB, in Frankfurt, central Germany, Thursday, May 30, 2013.
(AP Photo/dpa, Boris Roessler

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Police in Germany's financial capital, Frankfurt, have ringed the European Central Bank with metal barricades a day ahead of anti-capitalist protests expected to draw several thousand people.

Members of the Blockupy group say they will try to prevent employees from reaching the ECB building for several hours Friday to highlight what they say is the bank's role in enforcing the harsh spending cuts introduced to tackle the euro area's three-year debt crisis.

A second demonstration is planned at Deutsche Bank's headquarters nearby.

Several hundred protestors had assembled by Thursday afternoon at a tent camp in a park several miles (kilometers) from Frankfurt's downtown financial district.

The ECB says it will remain operational and has taken steps to ensure employee safety.

Blockupy spokeswoman Frauke Distelrath said that the protest was not aimed at bank employees but at its role "as an important participant in the policies that are impoverishing people in Europe, in the cutbacks that are costing people their ability to make a living."

Blockupy says the so-called "troika" made up of the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund is imposing an "austerity diktat" on financially troubled countries. The troika is responsible for making sure Europe's bailed-out countries comply with the terms of their rescue loans, such as sharp budget cuts in an effort to reduce government deficits. These cutbacks have, in turn, contributed to recessions and high unemployment. So far, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus have all received bailout loans while Spain got loans for its banks.

Blockupy includes people who participated in the Occupy movement which protested the role of global capitalism by camping out in cities in a number of countries, as well as critics of globalization and members of other left-wing organizations.