BERLIN — Thousands of anti-capitalist protesters besieged Germany’s financial capital of Frankfurt on Wednesday, clashing with police, setting cars on fire and blocking streets in a protest targeting the inauguration of a $1.4 billion headquarters for the European Central Bank.
Police deployed water cannons during the demonstration, called by the group Blockupy, an alliance of left-wing movements from across Europe.
The protest organizers consider the European Central Bank a symbol of the austerity policies that they say have hindered state spending in the European Union and ushered in an era of economic stagnation and poverty, particularly in southern nations, including Greece.
In what was thought to be the first phase of a planned day of protests, several police cars were set ablaze and riot police were pelted with rocks.
Frankfurt Police Chief Gerhard Bereswill told local radio that demonstrators wearing gas masks had released irritant gases and liquids into the air, injuring at least 80 officers.
Police said 350 people were detained for “crimes and rioting.”
Blockupy — an outcrop of the Occupy movement that swept the globe in 2011 — estimated that 10,000 protesters had heeded its call, though no official numbers were immediately available. The group’s main demonstration, fueled by protesters arriving from various countries in Europe, was scheduled for 5 p.m. local time (12 p.m. EDT).