Germany: Riot police clear Occupy Frankfurt (photo)

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

German riot police carry a demonstrator fully covered in paint as police clears the camp of occupy protestors in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, May 16, 2012.


  1. Wow. I presume the paint is so that police who carry them off are similarly coated. What a fantastic form of non-violent protest. You can’t really charge them with destruction of police property or whatever, because the police are the ones who are laying hands on them.

    1. Strangely, this photo humanizes the police for me. You can picture them thinking to themselves, “When I was a kid, I thought I was gonna chase bank robbers. What even the hell is this.”

      1. Almost makes you wonder if they realize the irony of them disassembling a group of protesters arguably on their side.  

        1. Depends on the individual protesters. Like any protest, occupy attracted its share of chronic troublemakers. There are some people who have a permanent ‘f… the police’ attitude or are against the who concept of policing.

          1. ” … occupy attracted its small share of chronic troublemakers. … ”

            Fixed that for you.

          2. Occupy protests attracted its large share of chronic troublemakers, some of which got paint on their uniforms.

      2. Agreed.
        Whether it was right or not to clear the site (the protesters lost several court cases trying to have their demonstration allowed), the police consists of people too, and they don’t love this type of job.
        So I think it’s fair to show respect to these people and in turn be able to expect respect from them. I don’t think I like this paint thing.

        I _am_ sure I would like this paint thing as a kind of retaliation against policemen who overstep the line. But in this case … you can’t punish the police for being the police. I want nicer people to join the police, so be nice to them as long as they are.

  2. Other cities: TAKE NOTE. 

    $22 says the German police won’t be doing any of the stupid thuggish things that the NYPD and other forces have done. 

    1. I’ll take that. Betting that the German police will abuse and use excessive force is a no brainer.  Amnesty International has already released the report ‘Unknown Assailant – Insufficient investigation into alleged ill-treatment by police in Germany’ in regards to 3 deaths and 12 cases of abuse following police action. Historically, the Germans have not exactly been known for their compassion or regard for humanity.

      1. “Historically, the Germans have not exactly been known for their compassion or regard for humanity.”
        I’ll take your (rather cheap) bait. Do you really want to compare the police of the FRG (with a democratic tradition of more than 65 years) to gassing jews in Auschwitz? 

        When comparing different countries policies against fascist Germany you should have a good look at the post-9/11 USA. At least in Germany they don’t torture or kill or hold secret trials or use indefinite detention anymore. They learned from their past – a trait the US seem to miss entirely.

        Also: BB Article: German police fired 85 bullets in 2011

        1. Cheap bait? You can try to defend German police if you want to. I advise you educate yourself on the truth,

          According to the Amnesty International report they do torture and kill those in detention. I never said the USA was any better. It’s probably much much worse. But pretending that there isn’t a systemic problem within the German police is simply incorrect. Finally, the use of firearms is not at issue here. That’s just a red herring. What is at issue, is the systemic problems of abuse and cover up in the German police system.

      2. That “history” comparison is crap.
        Still, there are cases of just the same type of behaviour we’re seeing from riot police around the world. Water-hosing and pepper spraying people for no reason, and worse:

        Before the G8 Summit in Germany in 2007, several people were arrested and their computers confiscated on terrorism charges because they were probably planning (nonviolent!) protests, and I personally almost witnessed (it happend just minutes after i passed the spot) a cossroads being hosed, with tens of injured.

        The good news is that the two policemen in the video above _have_ been punished (although no enough, some say), and the guy responsible for the water-hosing in my town was at least demoted.

        Everyone trying to decide whether “German Policemen are good” or “evil” is . .. jobbist? Like racist, only with jobs. “The Police” consists of individuals, and some of them are assholes, some are angels, most are just trying to get along. As a Policemen in Germany there’s a lot more than I like that you can get away with, but you can’t get away with everything. At least. And I think there’s a certain amount of realization within the Police that protesters are individual people, too. Which is why I’d like protesters to realize that the same goes for policemen.

        EDIT: I just read a bit about how the clearing went and a few other details. Not nice. It’s amazing what lengths authorities will go to in order to conform to stereotypes.

        1.  It’s true. I am jobbist. I feel that anyone who seeks to become a cop is probably an ass-hat. Non-asshat cops are most likely a myth or at best they are new recruits who have yet to be fully initiated in to the ways of thuggery, abuse, and cover up.

      3. Living in Munich I have to disagree. Though the Munich cops have a reputation for being rough, they have learned their lesson after the famous Munich Kettle incident at a G8 conference. Providing security for the annual Munich Security Conference and having to deal with 100 skinheads versus 3000 protesters has also sharpened their sense of what is allowed and what isn’t.

        Not to say that there won’t be abuses, but not at the level we have seen in New York and Oakland.

        EDIT: It was a G7 conference in 1992, not G20 as I originally wrote.

    2. They could have at least turned the fire hose on them.  I bet that paint is going to feel real good once it’s hard and crunchy.
      -that’s like half sarcasm…I hope the police at least hose them down some before putting them in lock up.

  3. More pictures here:,15402798,16061306.html (article in German, but a slideshow is embedded.)

  4. I find the whole thing particularly disturbing since I lived in Frankfurt for 9 years. Moved away a little over three years ago, but I still feel connected with the city in a way. I look at the pictures and I think, oh my God, I know where that is. Been there lots of times…

  5. The occupy needs a new tactic, the protests have become too tied to a debate on if people should be able to live in parks. And really I think the answer is no, people should not be allowed to live in parks. It defeats the point of a park. On the other hand wealth inequality Is a big and important issue that is getting lost in the jobs or gay marriage debate that consumes our national discourse.

    1. I don’t think the sole point is that people should be allowed to live in parks.  I think the parks are being used as staging areas so that people can assemble and discuss ideas which are not commonly addressed through traditional political channels.  In that light I don’t see it as being too different from other impromptu political assemblies.  The Constitutional Convention and the Oath of the Tennis Court come to mind.

      1. Occupy in each city is a bit different but for quite a few, two of the biggest issues were the right to have settlements in the parks for as long as anyone wanted to stay there and 3am bongo playing.  Sounds silly but Google ‘occupy bongos’ and you’ll find it was an issue at an amazing number of the occupy sites.  None of this means that occupy was about nothing but turing parks into housing developments and bongo centers. Read the message boards/twitter feeds of just about any occupy group and you’ll see that there was quite a bit of disagreement in the ranks about these issues. It was common enough though that it has become one of the defining characteristics of occupy groups as perceived by the public.

    2. A park is a place where people come together to do things that people do if they come together.
      But first of all it is an open space, a center of what beeing a citizen means. And if citizens feel the need to protest something crappy whith simply beeing there in the open space, well, thats what the name comes from.
      From the latin civis which is the same as the greek polites, which meant  “to participate  in decisions and ruling”.

  6. The article in the Frankfurter Rundschau sigdrifa linked to is a pretty good report on what happened, why it happened, and how different parties affected by the protest evaluate what happened, something that I have not found in the context of any US based protest so far. It says that over the last couple of days several hundred (at some protests 300, at others 700) people demonstrated peacefully without permission. Police presence was massive, but only very rarely the police became active. One time the police protected the protesters from an attack of six presumably right-wing extremists. The protester seen in the image was arrested along with two others because they splattered the police with paint. On Saturday, a permitted mass protest will take place.
    Although commenters on the article state that they are surprised/shocked by the violent police tactics, I know that the Germans are very very sensitive to police violence or any kind of power abuse by authorities and I assume that whatever happened doesn’t compare at all to the level of violence applied by the NYPD.
    (I am a German living in NYC and an occupier.)

  7. Don’t mean to hijack this  thread but Germany is doing dodgy shit these days. Sad to not see anything on BB about them arresting Paul Watson on behalf of the government of Costa Rica for an incident that happened 10 years ago which did not cause any injuries or property damage. I’d expect Germany to have enough balls not to do the Japan’s bidding. Lame Germany, Lame.

    1. Watson is not liable for extradition to Japan as Japan does not have extradition treaties with Germany or Costa Rica. 
      Still, that’s fishy. 
      In 2002 a Costa Rican judge dismissed the charges after documentary footage revealed no wrong-doing. 
      The charges, however, were re-issued in October, 2011.

  8. Germany is just as subject to baloney conservatism as the US is.  However, there is much much much less of the “othering” in Germany than in the US, people with blue color jobs are socially just as respected as people with academic jobs.  One of my closest childhood friends is a German police woman, and she is a smart, liberal, well-read, compassionate woman.  She sees herself as a part of society, and my impression is that American police see themselves as separate from, or above, the rest of society.  Which is not to say that Germans don’t love order and some are jerks, but I don’t think that you can compare German police to American police, even a little.

    1.  The thin blue line is the thin blue line, and your friend will never have to answer the call to defend a colleague and friend against accusations from a third party.  But all of this tends to ignore the fact that as a policeman, when a lawful order to remove people from a protest, you’re contractually bound to follow that order or feel free to find another job.

      Also, American Police don’t see themselves as separate from society, but they’re usually in contact with the worst, most violent and depressingly poor and ignorant parts of society, not to mention targetted.  They’re paranoid and sometimes more inclined to act with wilful intent due to a misguided sense of ‘right’ and occasionally ignore sociopaths in their ranks, but they’re still largely bound with keeping society together.

      1. feel free to find another job.

        And some people would do that rather than violate the civil and human rights of their fellow citizens.

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