Central Banks

Riots at the European Central Bank

Anita Balakrishnan

Riots at the European Central Bank

German riot police officers clash with a protestor (3L) outside the new European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters during riots in Frankfurt March 18, 2015. Thousands of anti-capitalist protesters clashed with riot police near the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt on Wednesday, hours before the ceremonial opening of the 1.3-billion-euro ($1.4-billion) building.
Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters

Rising tensions from anti-austerity moves in Europe came to a head when thousands of protesters rioted at the opening of the new European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.

Cars were set on fire and dozens of people were injured, including police officers.

Tensions have been high surrounding policies by the ECB, which is trying to revive Europe's sagging economy. A bailout plan for Greece has led to sharp exchanges between the Greek and German governments.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi defended ECB policies at the opening ceremony, while protest organizers told Reuters reporters that Greece was being "asphyxiated" by belt-tightening austerity.

Click ahead to see scenes of the confrontations, and see more video coverage here.

—By CNBC's Anita Balakrishnan
Posted 18 March 2015

Police cars burn

Four German police cars set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters burn near the European Central Bank (ECB) building hours before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt March 18, 2015.
Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters

German police cars burn near the ECB building. The protest was organized by a group called Blockupy, named after the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, according to Reuters.

Grassroots critics

An anti-capitalist protester dressed as a clown shouts behind policemen near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt March 18, 2015.
Michael Dalder | Reuters

Blockupy says it represents grassroots critics of the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, whose inspectors monitor countries that have received bailouts.

At the barricade

A police officer stands next to a security barrier topped with barbed wire outside the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters as the inauguration ceremony for the new building takes place in Frankfurt, Germany, on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Anti-austerity protesters seeking to spoil the inauguration of the European Central Bank's new headquarters in Frankfurt's east end set vehicles alight, erected barricades and left a trail of destruction across the city.
Martin Leissl | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A police officer stands next to a security barrier topped with barbed wire.

Draghi speaks

Tarek Al-Wazir, Deputy Minister-President and Minister of Economics, Energy, Transport and Regional Development of Hesse state, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi and Peter Feldmann Lord Mayor of Frankfurt (L-R) cut the ceremonial tape during the inauguration of the ECB's new headquarters in Frankfurt March
Wolfgang Rattay | Reuters

Despite protests, Draghi (center) cut the ceremonial tape as planned on the new 185 meter (600 foot) high skyscraper.

Thousands gather

Activists march in a demonstration organized by the Blockupy movement to protest against the policies of the European Central Bank (ECB) after the ECB officially inaugurated its new headquarters earlier in the day on March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Getty Images

Activists march in a demonstration, while shops in downtown Frankfurt stayed shut.

Front line

Riot Police form a cordon as a Police car burns on the opening day of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on March 18, 2015.
Odd Andersen | AFP | Getty Images

Riot police form a cordon as a police car burns. Germany, the site of the protests, has been pushing the austerity measures as a way stabilize the EU's economy.

'Highly aggressive'

A burning police car is seen during Blockupy movement protests against EUs austerity measures on the day the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters official opening in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on March 18, 2015.
Mehmet Kaman | Anadolu | Getty Images

"The atmosphere is highly aggressive," police spokeswoman Tessa Koscheg said

The anti-Troika

Activists march in a demonstration organized by the Blockupy movement to protest against the policies of the European Central Bank (ECB) after the ECB officially inaugurated its new headquarters earlier in the day on March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Getty Images

The ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund together are known as the "troika" for their strict oversight of the $252 billion Greek bailout.

'People over banks'

Anti-capitalist protesters rest in the central square in Frankfurt's old town March 18, 2015, after the inauguration of the European Central Bank (ECB) new headquarters. Anti-capitalist protesters clashed with riot police near the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt on Wednesday and set fire to barricades and cars, casting a pall over the ceremonial opening of the billion-euro skyscraper.
Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters

Anti-capitalist protesters rest in the central square in Frankfurt's old town. Police were able to clear the area around the ECB in time for Draghi's speech, while riots took place elsewhere in Frankfurt, reported CNBC's Annette Weisbach, live in Frankfurt.

#Blockupy

A protester throws a stone during riots with police near the new European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt March 18, 2015. Thousands of anti-capitalist protesters clashed with riot police near the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt on Wednesday, hours before the ceremonial opening of the 1.3-billion-euro ($1.4-billion) building.
Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters

A protester throws a stone during riots with police. Despite hundreds of arrests, Blockupy was still tweeting the start of big march through Frankfurt on Wednesday afternoon, U.S. time.


Paint bombs

A German police officer who was hit by a paint bomb by anti-capitalist protesters looks at a burning police car near the European Central Bank (ECB) building hours before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt March 18, 2015.
Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters

A German police officer who was hit by a paint bomb looks at a burning police car.

Read MoreGerman police use tear gas in anti-ECB protest