German authorities on Wednesday cleared out a group of protesters who have camped for months in front of the European Central Bank, ahead of huge anti-capitalism protests expected at the weekend.
Some of the demonstrators hurled paint at police who were moving them on, after they ignored a request to leave voluntarily, said an AFP reporter at the scene. There were a dozen or so arrests, according to a police spokesman.
However, the clearing of the “Occupy Frankfurt” camp was largely peaceful, with around 50 demonstrators sitting stubbornly on the ground in a show of passive resistance.
The ban on the about 100 “indignants”, who have held vigil outside the ECB since October — the longest continuous protest in Europe — runs until Sunday.
Police expect 40,000 people from Thursday for demonstrations that are expected to climax on Saturday. They want to set up a security cordon around the ECB, meaning the camp has to be cleared.
Authorities have already banned several protest actions, fearing “public disorder” after violence at similar events.
The city’s mayor, Claudia Roth, has expressed “serious concern” after police identified some 2,000 potentially violent protesters.
Commerzbank, one of Germany’s top banks, which occupies one of the biggest skyscrapers in Frankfurt, has said it would close from Thursday to Sunday.
As Thursday is a public holiday in Germany, the protest will only actually affect one working day. Many employees also take the Friday off but those who work can go to other locations, the bank said.
Germany’s top bank, Deutsche Bank, declined to comment on its policy, saying only that the lender was “monitoring the situation”.