Socialist Worker

Protesters and students clash with riot police in Greece

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2746

Marching through the streets of Athens

Marching through the streets of Athens


Mass demonstrations across Greece have defied police violence. Thousands of people marched in the capital Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki last Thursday—despite lockdown bans—after brutal police assaults.

Banners demanded riot police leave city neighbourhoods and university campuses.

Protests began earlier last week in response to footage showing police severely beating a young man in the square of an Athens neighbourhood.

The man reportedly objected when police began handing out heavy fines to families sitting on benches in the square.

Attacked

The cops then drew their batons and attacked him.

In the video, which went viral, onlookers express outrage as the man calls out, “I’m in pain.”

Hundreds of people marched through the neighbourhood against the attack that day—followed by a protest of 5,000 on Tuesday.

Cops attacked both protests, and the demonstration on Tuesday turned into an intense battle with riot police.

Thousands of people then marched in the centre of Athens on Thursday—a protest called by lawyers’ organisations against police violence.

On the same day, thousands more also marched in Thessaloniki after riot cops stormed a student occupation at Aristotle University in the middle of the night.

It came after the Greek government passed a bill last month introducing a new police force for university campuses.

Until now, police have been banned from campuses—a legacy of an uprising in 1973, beginning at Athens Polytechnic, against Greece’s then military dictatorship.

‘We are motivated by the irresponsible attitude of the government,’ say students in occupation in Greece
‘We are motivated by the irresponsible attitude of the government,’ say students in occupation in Greece
  Read More

It’s just one aspect of the Tory-type New Democracy government’s drive to hand more power to the cops to clamp down on the right to protest.

The government also passed a law last month which demands protest organisers get permission from authorities first—and can ban those that could disrupt businesses.

Cops have also used lockdown restrictions as a cover to crush protests.

Riot police smashed up a demonstration in support of hunger striking prisoner Hector Koufontinas in Athens last week.

Yet Greek workers have repeatedly struck and protested despite the restrictions. Health workers struck last month to demand more funding and resources for the health service.

Thousands of students also marched in Athens last Wednesday—a year to the day since schools were closed.

And on Monday many people joined International Women’s Day demonstrations in city centres.


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