As many as 21 anti-capitalists have sustained injuries during a protest against the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, which was hosting the opening of the ECB headquarters.
On Wednesday, around 6,000 demonstrators turned up during the inauguration of the sleek glass structure, which stands 185 meters (606 feet) high in the eastern part of the city.
Clashes during the protest also injured 14 German policemen.
Police said they had made 16 arrests by 2:30 p.m. local time (1330 GMT), mostly on charges of disturbing the peace and arson after seven police cars were set ablaze.
At a press conference, Ulrich Wilken, a spokesman for Blockupy anti-capitalist protest, distanced the organization from the violence and noted that attacks on fire brigade vehicles had no place in demonstrations in Germany.
“I would have hoped that the morning protests would be very different. This is not what we in Blockupy had planned,” he said.
Wilken also said he “understood” people’s anger at the “policies of impoverishment” being forced by governments onto people in the crisis-hit countries.
ECB on the defensive
Protesters are angered at the ECB’s role in overseeing bailouts in the continent’s debt-ridden countries such as Greece and at austerity measures and capitalism.
Europe plunged into financial crisis in early 2008. The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms.
The ECB chief, Mario Draghi, defended on Wednesday the lender’s handling of the euro debt crisis at the inauguration.
“People are going through very difficult times,” he said at the opening of the 1.3-billion-euro (1.4-billion-dollar) building. “European unity is being strained,” he added, warning that the bank’s critics did not have answers to Europe’s problems.