Greece: 2nd Day of General Strike 29/6 - Unprecedented Police Brutality at Syntagma Square

A timeline account of the day. Relentless riot police attacks with teargas, physical violence and even rocks. Hundreds of injured demonstrators. Square raided but not evacuated.

Submitted by demetra on June 30, 2011

The second day of the General Strike in Greece was also the day the mid-term programme would be voted: A programme of austerity that everyone knows will bring even more impoverishment to the working class and proletarianised petty bourgeoisie, while ratifying the wholesale sell-off of public assets. This day was meant to be the culmination of resistance, and it was drowned in teargas even earlier than the mid-term was passed in parliament. The demonstration started large, but after relentless brutal attacks with teargas, physical violence and even stones, only a small core of people remained in Syntagma square. Rioting by a younger section of the demo was the response to police repression and to the vote and continued until late into the night, with a small core of demonstrators remaining to keep the square. The Syntagma square occupation was rebuilt by Thursday midday.


By 1pm today, the demo in front of parliament is as normal, no clashes, no reports of numbers yet as some neighbourhood blocs had trouble joining Syntagma because of street blockades by police... There have been some clashes in streets around town. A young woman was hit on the leg by police and was taken to hospital.

9:30 Police attack on bloc at Hilton video.

Syntagma is resounding with jeers and and anti-IMF, anti-parliament, anti-Memorandum slogans.

It is expected the mid-term austerity programme will pass as most governing PASOK party MPs will vote for it. However everyone is saying that this is when the real struggle begins...

1:30pm People have broken the police cordon in front of parliament and are walking towards it. Lots of cheering and clapping. Teargas and stun grenades thrown but people not leaving. It is as if a stage for fighting has opened up in front of parliament.

1:45pm The great mass of demos has now withdrawn away from Amalias in front of parliament, some into square, some into other streets, as teargas continues to be thrown. This was not 'provoked' by anything more than some people getting closer to parliament than police wanted them to. Now they are poisoning the square again endlessly. The place is resounding with 'cops pigs murderers' 'bread education freedom the junta didn't end in '73'. ... 10 minutes later... Looks like people are returning into Amalias. Still lots of teargas.

2pm Even Paul Mason now admits this attack was unprovoked on a peaceful crowd. Of course, the crowd is now throwing stones and firebombs. What did they expect? Riot police is trying to push people further to the other side of Syntagma.

2:23 Teargassing continue. Great mass of demonstrators remain in other side of Syntagma. Live stream camera focuses on young women breaking a small wall to gather ammunition.

2:27 Police now throwing teargas further into the crowd. They are relentless. They obviously want to evacuate the entire area. Fire set to skips to break the teargas cloud, and young people are carrying objects for barricades.

2:47 Situation continues with more teargas thrown, beatings, and demonstrators throwing stones in a back nad forth movemement as the demonstrators' 'front' is trying to retake the space. Some demonstrators claim that this is not teargas but asphyxiation gas, and Maalox doesn't work with it.

3pm Live stream reporter confirms that a very large number of people is now clashing with police that is unrelated to the anarchist scene. That the demonstrators leave to take a breath and come back, they are not withdrawing. The live stream journalist needs to take a break because even from high up where he is located the air is suffocating. Police have also assaulted journalists. Teargas even thrown inside Metro station. Rebetico now playing through the megaphones - Vamvakaris: 'All those who become prime ministers, they will all die - The people are after them for all the good they're doing'

The police has failed in both dispersing the demo, and averting clashes with youths. The former is obstinately still there, ready to return in front of parliament, and the latter has been escalated by their provocation. The square has received 4 or 5 attacks by police but they have withstood them, many people are sick and fainting from teargas.

Town hall occupations in Chania and Komotini, trade union offices occupied in Kozani.

3:20pm Police assaulting people with stun grenades trying to evacuate the space in front of Grande Bretagne Hotel. Police are also throwing stones at demonstrators. The megaphone in the square is shouting against the Memorandum and the mid-term programme.

Video a group of demonstrators runs to escape police attack. One man is injured.

The livestream commentator mentions an event he witnessed yesterday during the day: Demonstrators blocked the street to riot police bikers (DIAS team). They came off the bikes and with the help of riot police they tried to get them out of the way but they weren't having it. The DIAS team finally left.

3:30 Police have pushed demonstrators out of the streets surrounding the square, clashes continuing.

3:40 Group of demonstrators trapped between two riot squads in Phillelinon street, who throw teargas at them from both sides.

3:50 Demonstrators have come back into Amaliast street and things are calmer now. Still teargas but not as frequent.

3:53 A young demonstrator hit a policeman. In response 7-8 riot police beat him up and drag him around.

4pm Police reports 26 people taken into custody 3 arrested, 19 injured police. Clashes in Philellinon street. People seriously injured in the Metro. Megaphone calling on Police to step back. Disagreements between those wanting to throw stones and those wanting to stop them. Megaphone says to police if you step back we will step back. They did... They need the air to be cleared and things to calm down so that those who are injured can be treated or taken to hospital. Things calmer for a few minutes.

The Mid-term programme has passed in parliament, as was expected, 155 for 138 against.

4:38 In Phlillelinon street youths start throwing stones again and police respond with rounds of teargas. Same stuff all over again.

In Chania, protesters broke into and vandalised PASOK offices.

4:48 Phiellinon emptied and riot police have entered the square, throwing teargas... Someone was arrested and police threw teargas spray and pushed away photojournalists taking photos of the arrest.

4:53 Police and protesters throwing stones at each other... Teargas is thrown in front of parliament at Amalias which was now full. The Demonstrators have now all crowded inside the square and the lyra is playing.

5:03 The square is attacked with tons of teargas, between tents, cloud of smoke everywhere. Many left, unclear how many people remaining and how long they can persist. Stone throwing between demonstrators and police in the square. Police pushing people to get them to leave on Amalias. Police throwing teargas and demonstrators shout back: "more! more!" People falling down because of the fumes. They need medical supplies. Teargas thrown even at people making a human chain to allow the injured to get to the Metro station. Video

Violent attack on square occupiers video

5:19 Youths throw stones at police. Police responds by throwing teargas not at the stone throwers, but at the people in the square.

Police throwing stones at demonstrators video 1, video 2

Riot police attack on grocery store video

5:30 People have been trapped into the square and gassed from all sides. Someone still playing the drum while poeple in urgent need of oxygen, medical support, while police teargassing unstoppably, including the medical team. People don't have the power to defend themselves, this is relentlessly brutal.

The young stonethrowers made a concerted counterattack on police forces and forced them to withdraw. When they tried to come back they had stones thrown at them and some were injured.

5:42 There is an official complaint from the Ambulance Service that police is preventing them from getting to patients. Meanwhile in Syntagma police continue to throw paving stones at demonstrators... Not only prior 'troublemakers' but everyone today have lost their patience with police, stone throwing is generalised...

Things being said on twitter "Don't be surprised, the next time a riot cop is torched even the trees will be celebrating"; "The only thing they are achieving by throwing so many chemicals is people's genetic modification - the sheep will become wolves!" "What we have here is STATE TERRORISM in all caps. Until yesterday I thought troublemakers were making a mistake, provoking riot police. I no longer believe this." "Arseholes! Cops ONCE AND FOR ALL! No excuses from cops' mothers any more! The are NOT doing their job! THEY ARE TORTURERS!" "SInce they are not letting people demonstrate peacefully nobody can say anything now for anything that happens from now on" "You who take away my right to demonstrate peacefully and throw chemicals at me for hours, don't you talk about democracy. Bloody FASCIST!" "And for me composure has ended. The police are cops. The MPs who voted next door to chemical suffocation are subhumans" "Let's say it: throwing stones, bottles etc towards riot police is no longer 'troublesome' behaviour. It is generalised"

5:54 A man has been beaten on the ribs, hardly conscious, another beated on the head by a baton... They need urgent medical support

6:15 Teargassing of the square and stone throwing bt police and protesters continued. Now police encircling Syntagma possibly in order to arrest all the remaining demonstrators. Yet more teargas.

Meanwhile inside the metro stration there are many injured crowding for help. Large number of demonstrators rush into the station to escape police squads. Teargas is thrown inside the station. video 1 video 2

6:22 Riot police have attacked an Ambulance worker. Reported on SKAI TV

6:28 Lots of people still holding the square while police seems to have withdrawn and things seem quieter for a while.

6:30 Police now hitting protesters in the square. In Romvis and nearby streets Delta team terrorising random people with stun grenades. Reported that earlier in Plaka Dias team threw rocks and chased protesters.

6:36 Riot police destroyed first aid station in the square. Urgent need for medical support.

6:50 Still 100 injured in metro station, with opened heads, breathing problems, suffering from teargas thrown inside the station. Police is not allowing ambulances into Syntagma. A PASOK MP was assaulted by crowd that threw water at him. Police is running after 400 people into Monastiraki and Psyrri. Medic reports over 150 injured seeking help. People are not leaving yet, scattering out when chased but then coming back.

7pm More teargas thrown into the square. Lots of Dias biker riot police arriving to evacuate Syntagma. Desperate call for medical support. Another injured on Ermou needs an ambulance.

7:16 Serious clashes in Monastiraki reportedly where the artists' group had escaped to 'demonstrate peacefully'. Riot police threateningly approached people who had been dancing, and threw a stun grenade and teargas. They then attempted to take people into custody. People spitting blood from teargas in Syntagma.

Dias riders squad invades pedestrianised area in Mitropoleos terrorising people in cafes and restraurants
Dias riders throw teargas into cafe.

7:45 People tweeting that they are going to Syntagma... Others already there that their face is burning and they feel like they will die.

MP H. Protopapas states: 'We won't let them stop us from entering the Parliament. This only happens in fascist regimes'

7:59 Fire brigade rescued 3 people from inside Acricultural Bank that had caught fire. Riots continue, while others seemed to be walking leisurely on Amalias earlier... It's a back and forth by rioters and police.

8:14 Injured still in Syntagma metro station. Young rioters play drums on empty bins

8:24 Chemical toilet has been set to fire. Another fire inside Syntagma square. People in the square now are in the hundreds, including rioters.

8:30 Meanwhile riot police squads ran after demonstrators into Dyonisios Areopagitis Street, where they sought refuge in a residential block. The police broke in as the residents tried to get the demonstrators into the basement. Police got hold of them and beat them brutally - one was taken by an ambulance. (from tvxs)

9pm Riot police has entered the square again, in standoff with protesters. They encicled the square. The more tactical protesters got in front of the rioters, and walked towards the police lines with their hands up. The police lines withdrew, exiting the square.

9:30 Things seem quiet now. There is slogan shouting inside the square but no clashes. Those who have endured all this are worthy of unreserved admiration...
Just as I said it - more teargas thrown. They threw loads of teargas into the square from several sides

10:30 Those that had remained in the square came out in one large group. unclear why. Not that many people left but lots of teargas still. One riot squad threw teargas at a group of protesters in a nearby street. Another riot squad let another group of protesters pass them by... The metro station is like a war shelter. Injured protesters are still being brought in every other minute. Doctor report over 600 injured of whom 40 are in a serious condition. A priest has brought food and water. Riot police has also assaulted and teargassed people in the Acropolis metro station. In Exarchia there are barricades and teargas has been thrown

Reports that biker riot police have been swearing, and batoning old ladies, children and tourists.

10:51 Teargas continues to be thrown in Syntagma. Clashes in Exarchia.

11:15 The square has ben been flattened. The tents have been trampled on and equipment has been destroyed. More teargas clashes in the square. Assembly now taking place in Monastiraki square for reorganising

11:20 Monastiraki assembly march through city neighbourhoods and mightlife areas in Gazi calling on more people to join, in order to reoccupy the square.

01:20 400 Syntagma square people, sprayed and beaten, attempt to make an intervention on Athens 984 municipal radio station. Riot police arrived but people negotiated with radio stration to get their message through. It seems that the station has been distorting what happened. They did not allow demonstrators through, and they gave up.

02:17 The 400 heading back to Syntagma. Tomorrow there will be a demonstration at 6pm against the executive legal framework for the midterm. Meanwhile riot police is still in Syntagma where the few remaining people are risking arrest.

Chios town hall was occupied.

2:30 The 400 join the remaining people at Syntagma and are greeted with cheers. Riot police did not attack this time.

Video "Teargas attack in the square medical team

Video "This doesn't even happen in wartime" Doctors outraged about riot police throwing teargas inside the first aid centre despite pleas that they were doctors and that they were treating injured demonstrators. They even set fire to the roof of the medical centre, refusing to listen to any pleas. Doctors and patients were trapped inside as teargas was being thrown constantly on the first aid centre for at least an hour.

Photos on the Direct Democracy site [1] and [2]

Photos in the Guardian show police violence.

More photos on Flickr and the photo of the day...