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Thousands of Greeks Protest New Democracy Bill Restricting Protests

Αssociated Press

Members of the Greek Communist Party protest against government plans to impose tighter controls on public demonstrations that frequently block traffic and turn violent, in central Athens, on Thursday, July 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS - As they did hundreds of times during the Austerity Era, Greeks took to the streets in mass demonstrations again, this time to denounce a measure by the New Democracy government which would regulate street protests.

The government said protests disrupt traffic and business in the capital when even smaller gatherings walk through main streets and have to be overseen by squadrons of police, anarchists often jumping in to make the scenes go violent.

Thousands of Greek protesters rallied in central Athens on Thursday against government plans to regulate frequent street demonstrations which often cause disruption in the city.

Protests in Greece over many measures by different governments are as common as crocuses in the spring and are seen as a way to register opposition to schemes and regulations that people don’t like, although their concerns are usually ignored.

This time the protests drew about 3,500 people to Syntagma Square outside Parliament, said Reuters, but was dominated by the KKE Communists aheaed of a vote on the measure in Parliament the week of July 6.

Demonstrators held banners calling for the bill to be withdrawn, others calling it an “abomination,” as it requires the appointment of a rally organizer to work with police and puts on further restrictions for fewer numbers of protesters involved.

It also imposes penalties on people displaying violent behavior, holding organizers legally responsible for any harm or damage caused by protesters, essentially making them culpable if anarchists take over and start battling police.

“The aim of the bill is to put an end to the chaos created,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters, saying there were 80 rallies in Athens as the COVID-19 lockdown was gradually being lifted.