Sunday, 11 September 2011

Massive battles in Thessaloniki

MASSIVE battles erupted on the streets of Thessaloniki on Saturday as thousands of angry citizens protested at a speech by neoliberal Prime Minister George Papandreou.
Reports on Contra Info explained there were a number of simultaneous demonstrations and gatherings, including one attempting to blockade the Expo where Papandreou was speaking, striking taxi owners/drivers, the mainstream trade unions, the Stalinist union PAME, the Anti-authoritarian Movement, Iraklis football fans (protesting against this local team’s relegation on financial grounds), the Libertarian Syndicalist Union; the base unions’ federation; autonomous immigrants/refugees, the ‘I won’t pay!' movement, secondary/university students and anti-authoritarians/anarchists.
Among the live bulletins coming in through the day were:
18.15 GMT+2: Taxi protesters threw eggs at police squads and attempted to tear down the plexiglass-iron wall so as to break through the police blockade and approach the Exhibition’s facilities. Cops fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades.
18.30 GMT+2: Taxi and students’ blocks are headed towards Venizelos Statue, at the (central) Aristotelous Square; so do the blocks of rank’n’file unions that have marched from Kamara. Banners from student unions of Athens, Patras, Xanthi, Komotini and Thessaloniki can be seen. Teargasing and more detentions are reported. (The number of arrestees and released people is yet unconfirmed.) Coastguard forces are also guarding the city’s port and surveilling the demonstrations.
18.45 GMT+2: Many motorcyclist demonstrators passed Aghias Sofias Street and are headed to Aristotelous Square. The indignants of Athens have also reached the White Tower. The student demonstration has just been attacked by police; this demonstration counts approximately 10,000 people.
20.00 GMT+2: Despite the teargasing, people remain in the streets chanting very loud and dynamic slogans while many protesters still clash with police via stone throwing, etc.
20.10 GMT+2: Clashes and barricades with fire in Ethnikis Amynis Street. Iraklis’ fans clash with cops who prevent them access, in Tsimiski Street.
20.30 GMT+2: Police had blockaded the base unions and students’ demo in Nikis Avenue, but protesters have now managed to reach the White Tower. Many other demonstrators clash near YMCA (HANTH) Square in order to get closer to Ioannis Velidis Conference Centre where the Prime Minister is about to give his closed-doors speech. More injured protesters; five were transferred to Aghios Pavlos hospital.
20.45 GMT+2: People were attacked by massive police force in front of the White Tower; police squads chased people in fury. One protester has been fiercely beaten and was detained near the White Tower. Cops use batons, tear gas and flash-bang grenades; people resist with stones and swear at them. Various fronts of clashes downtown; several protesters’ blocks are now near Venizelos Statue.
22.00 GMT+2: In Thessaloniki, several thousands still on the streets. Clashes in front of the Physics-Mathematics faculty; a lot of people are defending themselves around the university premises. Clashes between protesters and cops at Syntrivani (Fountain) Square, after brutal police attack in Egnatia Street. Many people are trapped by riot police in Aggelaki and Ethnikis Amynis streets. One more detention was reported in Ethnikis Amynis Street, near Kamara. (The total number of new detentions/arrests has not been confirmed.)
In Athens, at Syntagma Square, several hundreds of people blockaded the road in front of the parliament in solidarity to Thessaloniki demonstrators; police attacked them and pushed them to the staircase of Syntagma Square.
22.15 GMT+2: Many people set up barricades and counter-attack to police squads, in front of the University entrance. Cops have also approached the Church of Rotonda; they have fired tear gas straight at demonstrators in numerous cases. There is a barricade in Kamara; ongoing clashes at Syntrivani and Chimiou squares, and around Ethnikis Amynis Street —along which the public lights went off. A police bus was passing through Iasonidou Street outside ABC Hotel; when it moved to Egnatia Street, people spotted it and attacked it with a lot of stones.
02.15 GMT+2: In Thessaloniki, one young man was beaten fiercely by the bastards of five motorcycles police units in Kassandrou Street, near the General Secretariat for Macedonia and Thrace. More cops arrived at the spot while the young man was screaming in pain. Neighbours yelled from their balconies against the uniformed pigs. The severely beaten man was arrested. Another man was also detained for the sole reason that he was standing nearby waiting for a taxi and rushed to help him. Police brutality in all its glory:
02.46 GMT+2: In Athens, DELTA motorcycle cops were attacked with Molotov cocktails and stones in Benaki Street, in Exarcheia. There was tension in the area earlier as well.