The Citizens’ Protection Ministry on Wednesday banned gatherings in Exarchia and Kolonaki after plans by police unionists and anarchists to organize parallel events fueled fears of clashes between the two sides.
A statement issued by the headquarters of the Attica Police banned gatherings from 6 a.m. through to midnight Thursday. As grounds for the decision, it cited the growing mounds of garbage, caused by protracted strike action, and the rising temperatures.
Earlier in the day, Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas had insisted that a gathering by the POASY police officers’ union in Exarchia, a traditional stronghold for anarchists, would be provocative and foolhardy and called on unionists to “get off their high horses.” In comments to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, Toskas had added that “the police officer is a tool for serving the state and his role is to safeguard order, not to disrupt it.”
POASY said it had planned the event in a bid to extend a kind of truce to anarchists with whom officers often clash in the neighborhood.
Anarchists had responded by warning the unionists off. They also called a simultaneous meeting in the capital’s upmarket Kolonaki Square, apparently mocking the police initiative.
The leader of POASY, Grigoris Gerakarakos, told Kathimerini that the union will not defy a police ban. However, he criticized the government for “banning a meeting that had sought dialogue.”