Athens descends into violence as 200,000 march against austerity…(Miami, L.A., Atlanta? Hmmmm)
Police respond with tear gas to firebombs thrown from sidelines of demo against €12bn cuts
Wednesday 26 September 2012
Violence erupted in the heart of Athens as mass protests against further austerity measures in crisis-hit Greece escalated on Wednesday.
Police fired tear gas at crowds throwing rocks and petrol bombs. The exchange disrupted an otherwise peaceful march through the capital by up to 200,000 demonstrators participating in a general strike, the first big confrontation with Greece’s three-month-old coalition government.
Industrial action, hailed as a triumph by unions, brought the country almost to a standstill, grounding flights, disrupting transport and shutting public services including tourist sites.
The governing coalition, under immense pressure to pass yet more cuts by international creditors keeping the moribund Greek economy afloat, had ordered bulletproof barriers to be erected around the parliament but had hoped the protests would end peacefully.
As smoke rose over parts of the city and protesters donned gas masks, it was clear those hopes had been dashed. About 3,000 officers – twice the number usually deployed – had been standing guard in central Athens as authorities braced for rioting.
“This is a warning to the government not to pass the measures,” said Ilias Iliopoulos at the ADEDY, the union of civil servants, insisting that about 350,000 Greeks took part in protest marches. “Today was a huge success as witnessed by all those in the armed forces and police who also participated because they, too, will be affected by these cuts. The government must know that if wants to push us further into a corner, we will react.”