Greece: A brief summary of protest mobilizations on February 12th, 2012

~ read Occupied London coverage here

Athens is burning after riots on February 12th, 2012
Bullet found on Akadimias Street within walking distance from the formerly occupied Law School of Athens

A brief summary of protest mobilizations on February 12th, 2012

There are various estimations about the number of the people concentrated on the streets and squares of the country. Athens had anything over 500,000 people on the streets, it is not easy to estimate it, but before the attack of the police every street leading to Syntagma and the square were packed, with thousands more coming from the neighbourhoods on foot or by buses and trains. Half an hour before the demo one could see the metro stations and the bus stops full of people waiting to get on a vehicle that would bring them to the centre.

Almost every city saw rallies and mass marches, with Heraklion of Crete, a city that holds a record in the recent wave of suicides, having a 30,000-strong march. Demonstrations all around the country turned violent, with people destroying banks or occupying governmental buildings, e.g. in Volos the branch of Eurobank and the town hall were torched (the latter probably by parastatal thugs), or on Corfu people attacked to the offices of their region’s MPs, trashing them, the town hall of Rhodes was occupied during the demo and still is occupied, to mention but a few of such actions.

In Athens police did several preemptive arrests in the morning hours before the start of the demonstration. Several activists were attacked by police officers in plain clothes and were detained as soon as they came out of their houses, while it was obvious since very early that police wanted to keep people away from the parliament. In there, the new austerity package (an over 600-page document that was given to the MPs 24 hours in advance with the advice to vote for it before Monday morning when the stock markets will open) was being ‘discussed’.

Early afternoon, when the occupiers of Law School tried to march from the occupied building to Syntagma, the police attacked to them breaking the block, while they attempted to raid the Law School several times during the night, using also rubber bullets.

Well before the arrival of most demonstrators who were still on their way, the police attacked en masse the crowd in Syntagma square using physical violence, chemical gases and shock grenades. After the attack a big part of the demonstration was concentrated on Amalias, Fillelinon, Ermou, Mitropoleos and Karageorgi Servias streets. People battled with police for over 5 hours in their effort to return to Syntagma. Other people erected big barricades across Korai square on both Stadiou and Panepistimiou streets and fought trying to reach Syntagma or defend themselves from police attacks. On Panepistimiou street police concentrated much of its forces on the barricade in front of Athens University and people clashed head to head defending their barricade in Propylaea.

DELTA and other motorcycle police units raided several times the crowd, especially in Mitropoleos street; MAT riot police did the same several times, but also things went the other way around. Besides the barricades and the substantial groupings of people, demonstrators broke in various smaller groups that clashed with small groups of cops or walked around searching for a barricade or to join a larger group.

After midnight the majority of the parliamentarians (199) voted for the new austerity memorandum that (among other measures) includes the drop of salaries by 22% and drops the minimum salary at about 400 euros per month, while unemployment rate has been doubled (over 20% in November 2011) within 16 months.

Throughout the day, 77 demonstrators were arrested and over 50 people injured by the police were hospitalized. The arrestees from Friday 10/2 have all been released on bail (more info as it comes).

Several banks, governmental buildings and two police departments (Acropolis and Exarchia depts.) were attacked by demonstrators during the night, while Athens city hall was occupied, but police concentrated forces invaded the building and arrested the occupiers. Looting and property destructions made part of the rage. Over 40 buildings were burnt in Athens, while occupations of public buildings still are holding all around Greece. The Law School occupation issued a statement calling everyone on the streets to continue the struggle; nevertheless, the occupation did end in the early hours of February 13th.

Solidarity manifestations were held and called for in several places outside Greece. Here are photos from a solidarity action in Copenhagen, Denmark

Solidarity is our weapon!

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