NEWS

Police planning ‘scaled reaction’ to challenges to march ban

police-planning-scaled-reaction-to-challenges-to-march-ban

Police in Athens and other parts of the country are on alert for attempts to mark Tuesday’s anniversary of the bloody November 17, 1973 student uprising against the military dictatorship with public gatherings that flout coronavirus restrictions.

In the capital, police have received orders for a “scaled reaction” to expected efforts by leftwing and anarchist groups to march in contravention of a temporary ban on public gatherings, by instantly shutting down any rallies and preventing the customary march to the Embassy of the United States just north of the city center.

The plan involves teams of officers being dispatched to key points around the downtown area to spot possible gatherings before they grow in size and urge their organizers to abide by the ban. They will be assisted by helicopters and drones.

In the event that their recommendations and warnings are not upheld, the officers have orders to issue fines of 300 euros to individuals flouting physical distancing and mask rules, as well as fines of between 3,000 and 5,000 euros to the organizers of any rallies.

Rapid response units will be called in if protesters hold their ground and riot police will only be deployed in the event of violent reactions.

Five metro stations in downtown Athens have also been ordered to close as of noon on Tuesday to impede any gatherings, while police in squad cars will be issuing public warnings throughout the day.

Given the continued increase of coronavirus transmission in Athens and other parts of the country, authorities are concerned that any large gatherings can turn into super-spreader events.