28 March 2012
Support our work: become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.
"City of Frankfurt denies freedom of association"
In May last year, a series of protests "against the austerity dictatorship" were organised by the Blockupy network in Frankfurt. They were due to take place near the headquarters of the European Central Bank, but local authorities issued a near-complete ban on all protests for four days. The measures were heavily-criticised, and higher courts later ruled that some of them had been illegal. This week the protests are returning to the city.
The local authorities have taken a slightly more tolerant position this year, allowing a protest camp to be set up - albeit an hours' walk from the city center. The authorities have also issued permission for the main demonstration on Saturday 1 June, but the route of the protest has not yet been agreed and it is restricted by a wide number of conditions (Auflagen). The police will have the power to disband the demonstration at any moment if they decide that participants are not complying with the demands in the permit. Amongst these are prohibitions on "masking up" (including wearing sunglasses) and carrying banners more than three metres wide.
The organisers of the demonstration have refused to accept the conditions and filed an official request for the conditions to be repealed. The watchdog organisation Committee for Basic Rights and Democracy (Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie) has issued a declaration entitled "City of Frankfurt denies freedom of association." 
The Committee points out that jurisprudence stemming from the so-called Brochdorf Arrest means that disbanding a whole demonstration is not permitted solely because of the actions of a few participants. Only if all the demonstrators decided to undertake prohibited acts would it be justified. But there are fears that local authorities will disregard the jurisprudence and accept the risk of possible juridical reprimands. The Committee will deploy some 20 legal observers (Beobachter) to keep a watch on and register the actions of the police.
In an interview with the newspaper Junge Welt, politician Ulrich Wilken from the party Die Linke (The Left) argues that the conditions put on the demonstration are an infringement of civil rights. He also ridicules the arguments used by the authorities to justify the conditions, such as the fact that feminist groups have called for a Tanzblockade (dancing blockade). 
The organisers of the
demonstration have produced websites, leaflets and brochures
to inform demonstrators of their civil liberties and legal rights.
We welcome contributions to News Online and comments on this website. E-mail us, call +44 (0) 208 802 1882, or send post to PO Box 1516, London, N16 0EW.
Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.
Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement. Registered UK charity number: 1154784. Registered UK company number: 08480724. Registered company name: The Libertarian Research & Education Trust. Registered office: MayDay Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH. © Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals "fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.