Thousands of demonstrators from the anti-capitalist "Blockupy" movement on Friday morning cut off access to the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in central Frankfurt, Germany, to protest against the handling of Europe's protracted debt crisis by policymakers and big financial institutions.
Police spoke of roughly 2,500 activists on the ground who displayed slogans reading "Humanity before profit" and "War starts here!" The protesters also blocked roads leading to Germany's largest commercial lender, Deutsche Bank.
"The aim of the blockade is to prevent normal operations at the ECB," said "Blockupy" spokesman Martin Sommer, adding that some ECB employees who had tried to get into the building had been sent home by protesters.
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The ECB for its part said it had taken measures to remain operational and ensure the safety of its staff. Police wearing helmets and riot gear spoke of minor clashes at security barricades, but said the protest action had otherwise been peaceful.
Europe's "Blockupy" movement was formed after the Occupy Wall Street initiative in 2011. It has directed its protests against the perceived role of banks and governments in impoverishing many people in Europe, after cutbacks that denied many the ability to make a living.
Friday's action in Frankfurt comes roughly a year after police detained hundreds of people for defying a temporary ban on protests at a similar four-day event in Frankfurt, and precedes Europe-wide gatherings planned for Saturday, June 1.
hg/ipj (Reuters, AP, epd)