After Greece’s government approved yet another austerity plan on June 29, protests in the capital Athens
reached new heights of violence as police cracked down on demonstrators, forcing the city’s police chief to publicly apologise. According to our Observer in Athens, the police’s brutal tactics amounted to urban warfare.
Greeks, already unhappy with the country’s deepening debt crisis, had been protesting for days in anticipation of the austerity measures. On June 25, protesters had rallied in Athen’s central Syntagma Square [Constitution Square], where the country’s “Indignant Citizens” (a protest movement inspired by Spain’s non-partisan youth campaign, “Los Indignados
”), had camped out. On June 28, thousands of people gathered in Athens to protest against the impending austerity measures, after heeding calls from two major trade unions urging a 48-hour general strike.
Shortly after the Greek government approved the austerity plan on June 29 clashes among protesters, rioters and the police quickly escalated. Hundreds of people were hospitalised for respiratory problems after police fired tear gas, and several buildings in downtown Athens were set ablaze by Molotov cocktails hurled by protesters.
As Athens began to look more like a battle ground than a European capital city, images of the violence quickly appeared on the web. Some of the videos appeared to depict Greek police in collaboration with rioters, and the Guardian website
quoted one political activist who claimed to have footage demonstrating that the two sides were in cahoots. Inundated by complaints of police brutality and excessive force, the Greek government quickly reacted by launching an inquiry into the police’s tactics.