First of all let me say that i was happy to join all those people at Saturday’s #Occupy Frankfurt march. Police claimed it to be 2500 people, the organizer 5000.
The march started at the so called “Hauptwache” where we first headed towards a shopping spree and more and more people then started to join us. The march stopped several times so that the organizers could read/speak to the crowd. During the march the people were more quiet than i had expected. “Who’s streets? Our streets!” was the only slogan that was repeatedly chanted among most of the demonstrators.
Yet i haven’t seen anyone of the so-called 1% yet and the streets, that have been closed by the police in advance of course, felt empty to me although there were thousands of people. Finally we arrived at the banking district with all its skyscrapers, filled with the world’s corporate ownership. Before entering we stopped and the Guy-Fawkes-masked organizers wanted everyone to shout as loud as they can to tell the 1% that the 99% are here.
Up to that point i was still very curious about what’s going to happen when we arrive in the banking district. Will there be vast police brutality as seen in Oakland or Denver? Will there be a very angry crowd willing to take direct action and maybe enter one of those buildings? And the most important question to me, how would the occupation at the European Central Bank look like?
With all respect to this worldwide movement and the idea behind it, i have very significant criticisms to make when it comes to Frankfurt. I was in daily contact with the Frontline at #Occupy Wallstreet so i am very familiar with the events taking place there. I’ve seen pictures & videos from Oakland and Chicago and i stood and still stand in solidarity with them and this movement because i agree with their declaration.
But allow me to make my points.
So, after entering the banking district the next stop was set to be at the ‘Commerzbank’ building. The steps to the main entrance were crowded by the demonstrators within seconds so we decided to walk all the way up to get an idea of how many people we actually are. Finally, with most of the people standing in front of the Commerzbank building they started to play their (i guess) self-titled “Revolution Song” and the people started singing, dancing, clapping and some seemed to be having the fun of their life there. (watch the video to see it for yourself) There were two unarmed guards protecting the entrance of the bank’s building, with several hundred people directly in front of them, but nobody even thought of entering a building or at least demanding the leadership to come out and justify their actions. I am very well aware that to most people this may sound unrealistic or utopian but when we actually get people to come out and raise their voice, it must conclude with more than singing, dancing and laughing in front of the eyes of those people that are being protested against. Also, you can’t be seen as a real threat to the establishment, when the establishment knows every single step of you in advance. There was absolutely nothing i saw that one could actually call “police presence”. The cop’s i saw during the whole event can be counted with both hands.
Then the march came to an end and we finally arrived at the European Central Bank, where you could see the tents of those estimated 200 people that are occupying the ECB for over two weeks now. There were several stands that offered detailled information about the #Occupy movement and others selling buttons, books, Che Guevara shirts and alike but again, it felt really empty despite a high number of people actually being there so i went over to the convoy where several people held speeches about this movement I heard some students speak about the communal injustices in Frankfurt, about several cuts in the social sector and about how overcrowded our Universities are because of the cuts in this sector.
At that point i really started to think about the purpose of all this and suddenly, what Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz, head of the New Black Panther Party recently wrote about the #Occupy movement, came to my mind.
“First, I feel vindicated because all year some looked at me twisted when I called for 3 National-International Day of Action’s and Unity. We had to beg-and beg Black people just to stand up for ONE day. Now the white left has spearheaded organizing in the streets for several weeks in over 100 cities. Well, I guess the white left is suffering more than the Black’s.”
I started wondering how many people coming out to protest here were aware of what this corporate/banking system just did to the people of Libya, the Ivory Coast, what they did to Iraq & Afghanistan and in the words of Immortal Technique, that “slavery was the capital for capitalism”?
I listened to more speeches, talked to different people, read all those signs and i came to the conclusion that our white middle class, despite all efforts and the willingness to protest & demand changes, is still trapped in a eurocentric mindset. The speeches didn’t go far beyond Germany. Some showed their solidarity with Greece, but i didn’t hear anyone speak out against the latest imperial devestations of other countries. The white middle class cannot lead a struggle against a system to which they aren’t the main targets & losers. The system needs to face the people their dirtiest policies produced, all the oppressed and colonized people abroad, the black & brown people in the United States, the immigrants in Europe whose countries our people formerly colonized & are trying to re-colonize and those people whose leadership allows their resources & wealth to be literally stolen by the west, all over the world.
The last person i met there was this 75 year old american, who stood up against police brutality in the USA and he told me that he attended several marches in Frankfurt now and the police here are saints compared to the states so we discussed it and i told him the thoughts i have now written down. He agreed on most issues, but was nonetheless happy to see so many people come out to peacefully protest. He told me that he served the so-called 1% until he read Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and became aware of what was really going on. Suddenly he went over to a guy holding the flag of a socialist organization and told him that socialism isn’t the answer so i needed to start a serious discussion. He was very kind and gave me all the time i needed to raise my points. After saying that he rejects any form of governing and is mainly focussing on domestic politics i gave him a short overview of the Libyan Jamahiriyah and how this system works. He got interested and asked me to tell him more about Libya & Gaddafi since he didn’t know too much about it, despite the mainstream media’s reports. After finishing my points his short but direct reply was “Damn, this guy was a serious threat then”. After recognizing my Hugo Chavez shirt we went on talking about Venezuela & Cuba. Just before exchanging our email adresses, he revealed that he’s also an alternative medium and that he believes that those changes around the world have something to do with a new kind of energy going around.
What i want to say is that we need to get people, whether 16 or 75 to see the bigger picture. To make them see that it is not just about us, having to pay higher student loans or taxes, but about the lives of black & brown people all over the world. We must show more solidarity to the people that are being oppressed by this system, because only they can put an end to it. The system makes 1% extremely rich because it holds 99% poor. But the system also killed and continues to kill millions of people from Afghanistan to Latin America, to Iraq, Libya, South Asia and most of Africa. The system only has the power to oppress our people at home because it got rich from enslavement, colonization and mass murder of non-white people all over the world. It is not only a unjust system, but a racist system and WE, the white middle class can never ever be the centre of this struggle. It’s our part to support those who really suffer under this current system and we have to think globally. The word revolution is all over the place, with little understanding of its real meaning. A revolution comes from below and as long as the needs of those below the white middle or working class aren’t put in the centre of this struggle it will impose no real threat to the system. Bridges need to be built and then the “people united can never be defeated”. But the people can’t be united if the poorest & most oppressed are only a part of the 99%. They must be the centre, and i’m not even talking about those at home.
While we were outside protesting against the system that imposes higher taxes/fees on us, we kept quiet about what the same system did, when it bombed Libya back into the stone age.
To perfectly understand and then be able to fight the system, the little boy/girl in Somalia, Iraq or Palestine must be the centre of our struggle because criticizing and fighting our system without putting those children’s future & their countries past & present situation into context makes us political active but naively egocentric at the same time.
Despite all criticisms of the march in Frankfurt, i believe that the #Occupy movement has the power to be transformed into something bigger if some of the points i made are being considered in the future and i am open to discuss my thoughts on any occasion if you are willing to build bridges, not break them.
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