Thessaloniki Anti-Vaxxers Arrested After Protest Clash with Cops

Αssociated Press

Greek riot police operate during an anti-vaccine protest rally, at the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP/Photo Giannis Papanikos)

ΤΗΕSSALONIKI -- Greece's small but rabid anti-vaxxer protests against COVID-19 inoculations continue to turn violent, with nine people arrested during a raucous demonstration in Thessaloniki during the international fair.

Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis went there to deliver an address largely touting his planned reforms and an economic comeback from the pandemic and lockdowns.

But he ran into a wall of fire from protesters who are anxious that he may order mandatory shots in the autumn if the pandemic doesn't slow – it's spreading largely because of their refusal to get shots and people not wearing masks or staying safe social distances from each other.

The protest in Greece's second-largest city were in a base of otherwise support for Mitsotakis' party but during lockdowns it was also the symbol of defiance against health measures even as the pandemic was roaring.

Those arrested were quickly released but after being charged with a number of crimes, said Kathimerini, including attempting to cause physical harm, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace.

Eight were given time to prepare their defense while the ninth was a minor and will go before a juvenile court, with the government bracing for continued protests and mulling more measures if a fourth wave of the Coronavirus strikes.

The protesters attacked police while trying to force their way through a security cordon into the Helexpo conference center where Mitsotakis was giving his keynote speech to an audience.

Anti-vaxxers – some of whom believe the pandemic is a hoax and that coroners and doctors are faking the cause of deaths – don't believe the vaccines are safe or effective or that it's part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA and control their minds.