Some 20,000 activists took part in a major rally of the local Occupy movement in Frankfurt on Saturday, German police said.
Protesters peacefully filled the city center of continental Europe’s biggest financial hub in their protest against the dominance of banks and what they perceive to be untamed capitalism, Frankfurt police spokesman Ruediger Regis said.
Police revised the initial turnout estimate of 10,000 quickly upward to 20,000 as protesters jammed Frankfurt’s downtown business district on what was a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon.
A spokesman for the organizers, Roland Suess, said turnout has already reached 25,000. Organizers had told authorities that they expect between 10,000 and 40,000 participants.
The protest group calling itself Blockupy has called for blocking the access to the European Central Bank, which is located in Frankfurt’s business district.
Last year, thousands in Germany took to the streets in rallies during the worldwide Occupy movement. But as Germany’s economy is proving to be robust and unemployment at a record-low those protests have mostly fizzled out.
But Europe’s lingering debt crisis has given new fuel to some protests, even though Germany Europe’s biggest economy suffers none of the austerity measures now heavily affecting some southern European nations such as Greece, Portugal and Spain.
An Occupy tent camp in front of the ECB was cleared Wednesday as a safety measure ahead of Saturday’s protest. Some 340 activists left, some of them carried by police. Authorities say the camp can be re-erected on late Sunday.
Police on Friday temporarily detained some 400 demonstrators during unauthorized Blockupy protests by thousands of activists after they erected barricades and staged sit-ins.
Some 5,000 police officers are assigned to keep the weekend protests in check.