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Will New York Become Athens?

Posted on Thursday, 6th October 2011 @ 10:36 AM by Text Size A | A | A


VIOLENCE ERUPTED in Athens yesterday afternoon (October 5) as a small number of protestors clashed with police in Athens’ central Syntagma Square.

The demonstrations were called as part of a 24 hour strike which saw some schools closed, aeroplanes grounded, trains halted as well as some professions from both the private and public sectors taking part in the strike and subsequent protests.

The ruling Pasok government aims to deflate the public sector by cutting 30,000 jobs by December as part of its austerity measures. Other unpopular moves such as the strangling property tax also bought people out onto the streets.

Unlike the protests of 2 weeks ago when the city was bought to its knees through a full blown 24 hour strike, normality was ensured through the continuing operation of the urban transport infrastructure as well as the fact that most shops and businesses were open. For many Athenians it was simply business as usual.

The protest’s, estimated to have attracted 16,000 people was until just after midday reminiscent of the last demonstration which passed off peacefully. But by early afternoon sporadic violent clashes between young demonstrators and police began at which point the majority of peaceful protestors made their exit.

Young anarchists in their late teens or early twenty’s ripped sections of marble off the walls of the central square using it to throw at police. At about 15:45 protestors were pushed back from the street level and into the square. They congregated outside the main entrance of Syntagma metro station. Transport workers, well aware of how previous demonstrations had turned their place of work into a tear gas chamber pleaded with protestors to leave the area.

Rocks of marble continued to be pelted at police and as some of demonstrators tried to ascend the stairs to the street level a group of 20 officers made a charge. Police used their clubs and made an arrest. It has also being widely reported that photojournalist Tatiana Bolari was assaulted by one officer.

The demonstration quickly turned into a repetitious commotion of withdrawal and advancement by both police and protestors as they tried to gain ground. Fires were set and police responded with tear gas and stun grenades attempting to disperse the relatively small crowds. One police officer was injured and taken away in an ambulance while several arrests were made.

As protestors began to leave the square tear gas lingered in the air but daily life had been largely unaffected and the rush hour traffic carried on circling Syntagma Square.

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