ATHENS – Some 3000 people marched through Greece’s capital Sept. 14 to protest riot police going into the anarchist-heavy neighborhood of Exarchia to force out squatters, drug dealers, criminals and end lawlessness and violence there.
The rally was organized by anti-establishment groups upset that the new New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has targeted the area where they were allowed to run amok during the 4 1/2-year reign of the sympathetic Radical Left SYRIZA.
The neighborhood is a gritty, grimy graffiti-covered collection of filthy buildings in disrepair, and unkempt parks but a favorite of Leftists and groups opposed to civil society but also has been targeted by city officials for a planned cleanup and new Metro stop.
The protesters were upset that three abandoned buildings that had been used by refugees and migrants was emptied, which put families and children on the street. It wasn’t explained why they weren’t in detention centers and camps in the country housing more than 70,000 of them.
The march, which started at Athens University’s Propylaia and was originally planned to end in front of Parliament on Syntagma Square but was instead diverted to Exarchia, caused traffic jams in the city center and delays in public transport, said Kathimerini.
It came after several weeks of tension in Exarchia that saw anarchists tangle with riot police in clashes that saw Molotov Cocktails hurled at the police squadrons who responded with tear gas and took on the attackers in response.