Greek Cops Protest Transfers to Riot Squads, Targets of Anarchists

FILE - Greek police stormed three squats in Exarcheia and Koukaki, March 12, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS – Riot police in Greece’s capital, frequently under attacks by anarchists and having to defend the Parliament from numerous protests, will be beefed up by transfers from other units but police set to be moved aren’t happy about it.

An order issued by the Greek Police (ELAS) for the transfer drew an angry response from the union representing police workers, who complain that all departments are understaffed.

“Instead of a substantial boost, the smart alecks in charge have discovered a completely improvised method to bolster other police departments, which are struggling,” the Athens police workers’ union, EASYA, said, Kathimerini reported.

The statement came in response to ELAS’s decision, made after talks with Citizens’ Protection Minister Olga Gerovasili, to move 100 officers to riot police units which now have 1600 officers, with the government saying another 500 are needed to quell disturbances that occur often and see them assailed with rocks and other objects.

Because of the shortages,, riot police units dispatched during protest rallies comprise 10 or 11 officers rather than 16 or 18, creating serious risks for both police officers and citizens, unionists say.“This practice leads to mistakes and puts our colleagues in danger,” EASYA president, Dimosthenis Pakos, told the paper..

The new officers are to come from ELAS’s immigration unit, the transport police and the security police which also said were not to have enough help and the union demanding more police be hired, warning otherwise the riot police force will be a “shadow of itself.”

Riot police are also frequently needed in Greece’s second-largest city and major port of Thessaloniki as well as on islands hosting refugee and migrant detention centers and camps where violence often flares.