Anti-Austerity Protesters, Police Clash as ECB Unveils New HQ in FrankfurtEU | March 18, 2015, Wednesday // 16:46| views
European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi. Photo: EPA/BGNES
Violence erupted in Frankfurt on Wednesday as anti-austerity demonstrators clashed with the police before the official opening of the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB).
Several police cars were set on fire and their windows smashed after demonstrators threw stones at police, DW reports.
According to authorities, dozens of people, including many police officers, were injured and up to 350 activists were arrested.
Organisers of the anti-austerity rally from left-wing Blockupy movement blamed the police, which had used batons, pepper spray and water cannons to disperse protesters, for provoking the violence.
Activists targeted the ECB as a symbol of capitalism and for its role on imposing austerity measures on countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Ireland and Portugal in exchange for bailouts.
Although the police placed barbed wire in front of the new building, the hopes for a peaceful rally faded early on Wednesday, when clashes started with the protesters lighting tyres and rubbish bins.
Despite the clashes, ECB President Mario Draghi attended the inauguration and gave a speech, in which he said that it was unfair to point to the bank as the main perpetrator of austerity measures.
The building of the new headquarters of the ECB, which should have been opened years earlier, is estimated to have cost EUR 1.3 B, the BBC reports.