Police Tear-gassed Traffic in Athens Last Night


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Police Tear-gassed Traffic in Athens Last Night

They were trying to hit all the antifascist protesters who'd been running away from them.

Last night's antifascist march in Athens seemed to be made up of every demographic that Greece has to offer. Parties from all across the political spectrum had urged their supporters to take part in the demonstration, honouring the life of murdered rapper Pavlos Fyssas – allegedly by a Golden Dawn member – and making a stand against the neo-Nazi organisation that's gradually made its way into the Greek political mainstream, despite the catalogue of awful, violent, bigoted incidents its members have been involved in.


At around 6PM, Syntagma Square began to swell with the one of the most diverse crowds I've ever seen in Greece's capital. Many were arriving on foot, as central Metro stations tend to shut down every time a large demonstration takes place, and a load of students – along with members of leftist organisations – began to merge with the crowd after they arrived from their starting point near Propylaea.

At about 7PM, thousands of people (I'd say around 30,000, Reuters reckon it was more like 10,000) started walking from the square towards the Golden Dawn headquarters on Mesogeion Avenue, shouting slogans against fascism and the austerity that fuels it. By around 8PM, the march had reached the American embassy, meaning the chants soon took on a slightly anti-American flavour.

When we eventually reached Mesogion, around 800 metres away from the Golden Dawn offices, we spotted a line of riot vans blocking the road. The march's front line stopped dead in front of the police, but there was still movement in the centre of the crowd – masked kids holding pieces of wood who were desperate to get to the Golden Dawn.

Soon after, at about 9PM, clashes between police and protesters began to kick off; bottles and rocks were thrown at the cops, who responded with flash-bangs – one of which fell right next me, leaving my ear still ringing this morning. More rocks were hurled and, eventually, Molotovs, coaxing a retaliation of tear gas canisters from the cops. With the gas unleashed, the crowd started to back off and split up into two parts – one fleeing in the direction of Syntagma, the other towards the downtown anarchist stomping ground of Exarcheia.


This is where the police completely fucked it; they hadn't anticipated throwing tear gas at people would make them run away in the direction of oncoming traffic, so hadn't blocked any of the cars packed into Alexandras Avenue. Panicked people were soon running around among the bewildered drivers, and a photographer next to me warned a load of cars waiting for a green light to roll up their windows.

After a few minutes, the avenue was completely empty, with marchers dispersed into the surrounding streets. I decided to walk back to Syntagma, along with a few more, but our number had severely dwindled after the 6km round-trip.

So, that was the end of another protest in Greece, of which I'm sure there will be more. Unfortunately, I'm not so sure that they'll make much of a difference in changing anything.


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