THESSALONIKI – Violent opposition is growing in Greece’s second-largest city for the coming deployment of unarmed campus cops to try to guard grounds of a major university, anarchists clashing with riot police again.
There have been a series of pitched battles over the New Democacy government’s plan to put security forces outside – but not inside – four major colleges in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Anarchists and anti-establishment groups are also upset that police ousted them from a squat they had created and occupied for 34 years as school authorities are trying to build a library there.
Police were also called in to protect construction crews who were under assault but the anarchists are so emboldened that they have grown into a crowd of thousands that authorities can’t repel and no mass arrests.
Riot police in the northern Greek city fired tear gas to disperse crowds attacking them with Molotov Cocktails and stones during a May 26 protest against government plans to introduce policing on university campuses.
Some 5,000 members of left-wing and anarchist groups took part in the march through the center of Thessaloniki, with some smashing shop windows and setting rubbish bins on fire. At least eight people were detained.
The government had also said it would speed prosecutions of troublemakers but didn’t and has eased away from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ vow to take back control of school grounds.
There was more violence at the Athens University of Economics and Business (ASOEE) in central Athens, the school having long been a stronghold of criminals and drug dealers and where professors were beaten.
In this case, a group of hooded people came out of a building there and raided a Piraeus Bank branch located a few dozen meters away, using hammers and stones to damage the glass entrance of the bank and the ATM, before seeking refuge inside the university.
The government had ended a sanctuary law that was reimposed by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA that’s made up of veterans of university takeovers and has a hard core element of terrorist and anarchist sympathizers.
Earlier, someone set set fire to the car used for the transportation of National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) Rector Andreas Boudouvis, said Kathimerini in a report on the rising tension on universities grounds.
That same day an announcement was posted on an anti-establishment site, Athens Indymedia, under the title “Why we burned the car,” the anarchists so confident in the wake of not being prosecuted they are boasting and taunting.
It stated, among other things, that “We make it clear to the cops that will roam inside the universities that the vast areas such as the Polytechnic conceal hidden surprises and that the desire for an easy salary will not be comfortable,” in another dire warning.
Protesters are angry at government plans to introduce a new police body to guard university campuses, which lack effective private security and have suffered from political violence as well as some petty crime too.
Greece’s center-right government has scrapped decades-old laws that effectively prevented police — in the name of protecting academic liberties — from entering university grounds in most circumstances.
Left-wing opposition parties strongly criticized that move as well as the planned campus police, who are expected to assume duties after the government, giving in to demands from students and academics, said they wouldn’t be allowed on university grounds, leaving them outside to patrol.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)