NEWS

Thousands pack into city squares

Thousands of protesters gathered in Athens?s Syntagma Square and central squares in other major cities including Thessaloniki and Patra on Wednesday evening for anti-austerity demonstrations modeled on rallies being held in Spain.

An estimated 10,000 people crowded into and around Syntagma Square for a peaceful demonstration, chanting, ?Thieves, thieves? and making offensive hand gestures at the unseen lawmakers in Parliament behind a row of riot police officers. Another 5,000 or so gathered in the center of Thessaloniki.

The few banners in the crowds bore slogans that betrayed no allegiance to any political party, highlighting the absence of unions and associations that usually organize demonstrations in Greece. ?What time is it? Time for them to go,? one banner read.

The protests were organized using social networking sites including Facebook, following the example of the Spanish campaign that has been driven largely by young people.

The Greek initiative even adopted the name of Spain?s, Los Indignados, with groups calling themselves ?The Indignant of Syntagma Square? and ?The Indignant of the White Tower,? in a reference to the Thessaloniki landmark.

Unlike their Spanish counterparts, however – many of whom have been camping out in central squares for days – most Greek demonstrators did not appear to be in it for the long haul. There were no tents or sleeping bags in sight.

Still the crowds had not dwindled by late on Wednesday nights when the chanting of anti-austerity slogans was bolstered by a hypnotic beating of drums.