The biggest star of today's ECB's press conference was not Mario Draghi but 21-year-old German feminist, Josephine Witt, an ex-Femen activist who jumped on Draghi's desk wearing an "ECB Dick-tatorship", a slogan she repeatedly screamed as she was led away by security guards. She threw paper copies of her demands at Mr Draghi, while showering him with confetti that were created from her finely chopped up manifesto.
As Nordea analyst Heidi Schauman wryly observed after the conference: "All those expecting an uneventful ECB press conference were so wrong."
Who is Josephine Witt and what is her message?
According to the Telegraph, "to gain access to the press conference, the ECB said Ms Witt "registered as a journalist for a news organisation she does not represent”. Ms Witt told The Telegraph that she ha d pretended to be working for Vice Media, knowing that they hire many young reporters. The central bank said that it is investigating the incident."
Ms Witt said she would continue to engage in "hardcore activism" in response to what she believed was an "undemocratic" ECB. She added that recent protests in Frankfurt during the opening of the ECB's new offices were a reaction to Mr Draghi's leadership. "[He] never got a mandate, never got voted for or elected," she said.
"He imposes policies on these societies that are completely undemocratic," she added. A friend of Ms Witt said she opposes what she describes as “European neo-liberalism”, and argued that the ECB cannot act “without a state of surveillance, of police and violence”.
The friend stated that Ms Witt wants “peace and happiness for our lives, for Greece, and for all countries around the Mediterranean sea.” Her aim is to introduce a new political order to replace the European Union, with “democracy, civil rights, solidarity, and no borders”, the friend said.
She criticized the ECB for believing itself to be “master of the universe”, warning that “you will hear our outcries louder, brighter, inside and outside your halls, everywhere, and you shall deserve no rest”. She nicknamed the letters "papillons", in reference to the messages distributed by French resistance fighters during the Second World War. Papillon is French for butterfly.
As can be read in her manifesto (below) she said: “I do not expect this illegitimate institution to hear my voice, neither to understand my message.” Making reference to her "butterflies" she continued: “Today I’m just a butterfly sending you a sentence, but be afraid more are coming.” The activist was dragged from the ECB’s press room and taken to a police station in Frankfurt. She claims she was held for around two-and-a-half hours before being released without charge.
She extensively documented her 15 minutes of fame on Twitter, which as of this moment had a total of only 33 tweets, the first of which is from February 25. The majority detail her intrusion into the Frankfurt bank's inner sanctum as follows:
I would say, the #ecb 's security service is just as good as putins... :) finally outside police station!— Josephine Witt (@josephine_witt) April 15, 2015
Thank you, for appreciation! Let's take back democracy! https://t.co/2xp6FcxYLQ— Josephine Witt (@josephine_witt) April 15, 2015
That's one raise they did not expect. Fair enough, confetti is some scary shit... pic.twitter.com/nybp4X9u7j— Josephine Witt (@josephine_witt) April 15, 2015
bring the action! https://t.co/mI2ArLCL4g— Josephine Witt (@josephine_witt) April 15, 2015
This is her manifesto which she threw at Draghi while dumping confetti on him:
A closer read:
We own our own lives -
and in the face of the overwhelmingly powerful external
environment of the ECB’s monetary police,
sometimes it’s hard to remember.
We own our own lives -
and they’re not the chips in the ECB’s gambling game,
not to be played with, not to be sold, not to be devastated.
We own our own lives!
-will be the outcry of those who face repression,
when we begin to see our poverty not as personal defeat or unchangeable destiny.
master of the universe,
I come to remind you that there is no god,
but there are people, behind those lives,
and if you rule instead of serving,
you will hear our outcries louder, brighter, inside and outside your halls, everywhere, and you shall deserve no rest.
And while the ECB can only persist in its autocratic hegemony, depending on states of surveillance and police,
finally, the daily violence is enrooted here,
we will find our radical answers
and act with no violence against those human disasters.
Because we will not accept the insane narrative that the ECB wants to impose to all people wherein even freedom of speech and dignity can be sold to the bank in order to survive. Persisting in its arrogance against the people, the ECB increases perilously its own debt to them. A press conference is not enough to call it "democracy".
I do not expect this illegitimate institution to hear my voice, neither to understand my message,
it would be too much to ask,
but I know for a fact that a lot of people do understand very well the matter.
Today I'm just a butterfly sending you a sentence, but be afraid more are coming. We will take back the power over our own lives.
The ECB’s debt is not yet paid.
Surprisingly coherent for a 21 year old.
At the end of the day one Mario Draghi was surely delighted that what the protester rained upon him today was soft and does not cause bodily harm. One can only hope confetti is the only thing that ever rains down on Draghi and other unelected central planners.