Protests Erupt in Athens Ahead of Greek Bailout Vote
Demonstrators converged on Syntagma Square, calling for lawmakers to reject harsh new austerity measures.
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Protests erupted in the center of Athens Wednesday, as the Greek parliament was set to vote on a $96 billion deal negotiated by the Greek government and its European lenders before a midnight deadline. About 2,000 policemen stood by as demonstrators—including labor groups, anarchists, Communist Party members, and youth organizers for the ruling Syriza party—converged on Syntagma Square, calling for lawmakers to reject harsh new austerity measures included in the bailout package.
Rioting broke out around 9 PM, when protesters started throwing stones and petrol bombs toward the police forces. The police officers responded with stun grenades, tear gas, and chemicals, in some cases beating demonstrators back with clubs. A local TV news van was set on fire. Later, a group of protesters fanned out into nearby streets, attacking parked cars and vandalizing bus stations, banks, and ATMs. Meanwhile, police continued to unleash chemicals on the riots, and members of the DELTA Police force were seen hitting protesters, and even a passerby. According to law enforcement, more than 50 people were detained during the clashes.
UPDATE 8:09 PM EDT: According to The New York Times, the bailout passed early on Thursday morning. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras supported the $94 billion deal, despite its similarities to the austerity plan rejected by voters last week.