Athens mayor takes on Golden Dawn

Far-right MP tries to assault Kaminis, hits girl, after police break up food handout

A crackdown by municipal authorities on an attempt by extreme-right Golden Dawn to distribute free food in central Syntagma Square on Thursday prompted one of the party’s MPs to attempt an assault on Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis during which the MP apparently tried to pull out a gun.

According to witnesses, Giorgos Germenis tried to punch Kaminis after the mayor asked police to stop Golden Dawn from distributing food in Syntagma. Police were sent to the square early on Thursday and used tear gas to force members of Golden Dawn to retreat from the area, taking with them a refrigerated truck containing meat, potatoes and other food.

A few hours after the police crackdown, Germenis visited the offices of City Hall’s solidarity initiative, which happens to be close to Golden Dawn’s old headquarters near Larissis railway station, while workers were giving Easter candles to children and their parents.

Witnesses said the MP lunged at Kaminis and tried to punch him but hit a 12-year-old girl instead, leaving her with a lightly bruised forehead. According to municipal employees, and to Kaminis, Germenis had a gun in his trouser pocket and tried to pull it out but was stopped by security guards. A video uploaded onto the Internet showed the guards restraining the MP and telling him to “leave the gun alone.” Police said they were investigating reports that Germenis threatened Kaminis and tried to pulled a gun on him.

The mayor said he would sue the MP but added that the most important thing was that the “hate-filled” food handout had been averted. “This is a victory for the democratic state,” he said.

The assault was condemned by all political parties. Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou referred to “extreme acts that have no place in our democracy.”

PASOK said Golden Dawn had shown its true colors, “namely racist hatred, violence and bullying,” while Democratic Left said the party’s actions resembled those of “common criminals.”

Main leftist opposition SYRIZA welcomed the intervention of City Hall but said it would only be effective if implemented consistently as part of a broader political plan.