The almost daily attacks launched by self-styled anarchists against law enforcement units stationed outside the National Technical University of Athens and in the Exarchia district have placed the Greek police on full alert, bracing for the possibility of an incident-filled fall – starting with demonstrations being planned in Thessaloniki on the occasion of the International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki.
“Every two days around 15-200 kids in hoods launch attacks around the NTUA, hurling firebombs at riot police units and setting fire to dumpsters,” a police source told Kathimerini.
A recent front-page headline in a nationwide anarchist newspaper is telling of the intentions of anti-establishment groups in coming months. In the story, titled “Everyone hates the police,” readers are urged to clench their fist and smile as “we are entering a period of troubles.”
This concern is also fueled by what critics describe as the Citizens’ Protection Ministry’s soft-handed approach to anti-establishment groups, which has essentially sapped the will of law enforcement decision-makers who appear reluctant to address the issue head-on.
“The orders we get from the operations center is to do nothing and back down when the youngsters initiate their attacks,” the police source said, adding that the only time police are told to detain people and make arrests is after the situation gets out of hand, for example, when a bus is set on fire or a road is blocked by riots.
Critics say this has resulted in yet more audacious attacks by young groups of hooded anarchists – the beating last Monday in downtown Athens of traffic police chief Giorgos Diamantopoulos being a case in point.
The issue of public safety has shot to the top of New Democracy’s agenda in its bid to highlight the leftist-led government’s alleged tolerance of lawlessness, which it attributes to an ingrained ideological contempt of authority.