Riots in Athens

19 Oct

Once we saw the news on TV of the mega-demonstration turning violent, I grabbed my camera and ran to Syntagma, only a 15-minute walk from our apartment. The streets of Kolonaki were surprisingly still and quiet. I fiddled with my camera to get the best exposure of the protest in the late afternoon light.

The main road leading to Syntagma Square was blocked by Police vans and there were about 20 people huddled there. They let through several police cars and a firetruck. As I headed up toward Kolonaki Square to try to circumvent the road block and join the demonstration, I saw people walking around with their shirts or scarves covering their mouths; others wiped their eyes. A few had their faces painted white. Intrigued, I continued in that direction.

I saw there were several fires burning along the streets and the riot police were watching. The streets where I was were empty. There was a loud explosion in the distance.

My throat started to sting intensely – probably a mix of tear gas and smoke. I walked home amid the accumulated trash pouring into Athens’s streets. We can still hear the helicopters circling above us.

I don’t know much about these protests, but people must be pretty riled up to go out in the tens of thousands. People tell me Greeks like strikes because it gives them a long weekend, but what’s going on here is about more than just vacation days. They don’t want their lives to be completely ransacked by outside pressures. Most Greeks I have spoken to about the situation admit change is much-needed but these measures are too extreme.

The Greek prime minister is in a hopeless situation. He won’t make Europe or his people happy, and the Greek economy is at the point of no return. I’ve also been told that Greeks don’t have the solidarity Israelis have in the current social protest movement there. Maybe today’s events will change that.

See photos here.

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2 Responses to “Riots in Athens”

  1. monica October 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    ohhhh you did not go there ! bravo you go girl – you always find yourself in the center. write well write true

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