Violent protests marred the official opening on Wednesday of the European Central Bank’s new skyscraper headquarters in Frankfurt, transforming the twin glass towers into Europe’s newest lightning rod for anti-austerity protest.
One police officer was injured, and at least 350 people were detained after empty blue-and-white police cars were set afire by protesters, some of whom had traveled hundreds of kilometers to the German financial capital for a well-organized anti-capitalist event billed as “Blockupy.”
Streets in the city’s normally staid financial district were cordoned off by German police after protesters set off a series of coordinated fires around the center, and groups of demonstrators clashed with police amid rising plumes of black smoke.
The official opening of the blue twin towers, one 43 stories high, the other 45, attracted a coalition of anti-capitalist, anti-austerity demonstrators from Dublin to Vienna, some in clown facepaint, and others in headscarves.
Under the “Blockupy” banner, protesters were given access earlier this week to a nearby Frankfurt theater, the Naxos Hall, to organize their operations. The theater, according to its website, is partly financed by the city of Frankfurt and state of Hessen.