Summer's Gone and the Greeks Are Fighting Again
One thing us Greeks can always be smugly proud of, regardless of how little money and medicine we have, or how many brain cells we've self-defeatingly battered out of the national gene pool with massive sticks in the last few years, is our summer. The mere thought of the blue skies, sandy beaches and all-you-can-swallow goat and tomato and aubergine and ouzo allows us to keep looking at you pasty Brits with pity, and it is also the only thing that keeps us warm in the winter once the petrol runs out.
But, like all good things, Greek summer came to an end yesterday, leaving behind it a residue of brand new austerity measures, through which the government is aiming to shave €11.5 billion from the national debt. This fastidious penny-pinching didn't go over quite so well with the your ordinary Greek in the street, though, so your ordinary Greek in the street picked up a Molotov cocktail and began to scream.
First, we organised a general strike to protest against the new pension and wage cuts that are supposed to secure us another loan of €31bn – part of the massive €110bn bailout that the IMF, ECB and loads of other tyrannical acronyms that I can't really tell apart are cockteasing us with.
More than 50,000 (some even say 70,000) people gathered around Omonia Square at about 11AM and from there began to peacefully march towards Syntagma Square and the Greek parliament. The crowd consisted of people of all ages, from all paths of life. Then, a little after 2PM the black bloc made its way into Syntagma. Even though there were a tonne of black bloc, only a few of them broke away to shower riot police with Molotovs and rocks. The cops responded with CS gas and flashbang grenades, aimed at everyone. So far, so predictable.
The heat and the sunlight and the tear gas combined to make things very uncomfortable for the protesters, so most of them fled back towards Omonia Square and the streets around Kolonaki and Exarcheia, seeking refuge from the chastening smog. Around Omonia, there were a few minor incidents in which protesters attacked small groups of police, but nothing major.
According to the police, 105 people were prosecuted and 21 arrested, while eight police officers were injured. On the bright side, those numbers are at the lower end of the scale for the past year's protests. On the not-so-bright side, considering the impending cuts and measures, these numbers are only expected to get higher.
Greek Riot Season has begun!
Chris' website is here.