Today was by far the largest protest event I’ve ever attended. Official attendance estimates range from 20 to 30 thousand, but on the streets it felt as if the entire city had come out. Having experienced the entire day it is hard to imagine that the number was any less than 100,000. Blockupy Frankfurt was absolutely huge, even not counting the cops.
Sarah and I arrived to the main train station just before noon, when all the surrounding streets were a constant flow of pedestrian traffic towards the starting point of the demonstration. The official attendance estimate is most likely correct for the beginning of the march, as 20-30k feels to be the number of people gathered at noon. The energy of the event drew larger and larger crowds as the day went on. The mass was constantly growing.
My most remarkable observation was the diversity, from small children to masked anarchists, everybody was there as one. For over four hours the river of humanity flowed around the city center, in a general festive mood with no major incidents of violence. I do not feel that the police at all contributed to this peacefulness, though. To the contrary, the Frankfurt police state brought the crowds to the verge of violence on several occasions that I witnessed. Officers traveled on foot in columns on both sides of the march, hundreds of them at a time, often violently shoving anybody who happened to be in their way. They were hot and sweaty in their black uniforms under a bright sun, and many of them took it out on the public. Sarah was one of the ones shoved, by an officer that actually stepped out of his way to do so.
The police hostility drew the attention of those activist organizers who spoke to the crowds from loudspeakers mounted on trucks. Near the end of the march a violent outbreak seemed imminent, when thousands of marches screamed in unison at the columns of police who shoved their way through the crowd. The police retreated to a park.
Today is a day to remember not only in German and European history, but for the whole global movement.
Bring it on.