Protests wind down for holiday pause

Several thousand people staged what is likely to be the last major street protest before Christmas yesterday as leftist students and self-styled anarchists occupying university facililties started heading home for a holiday truce. More than 3,000 demonstrators joined a march organized by leftist groups through the city center, a continuation of more than two weeks of protests at the police killing of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Exarchia. The rally, which started outside the main entrance to Athens University and culminated in Syntagma Square, was mostly peaceful. One group of youths broke away from protesters at one point to overturn a police patrol car, but there were no reports of any injuries. Another group of protesters burned a model of a pig’s head wearing a police cap in front of riot officers. Schoolchildren, protesting Grigoropoulos’s death and education standards, also staged a peaceful demonstration outside the Education Ministry, singing Christmas carols. They said they would continue their protests in the new year. Leftists have scheduled another protest rally at the newly renovated Monastiraki Square at 4 p.m. today and more for January. Meanwhile, hundreds of self-professed anarchists who have been squatting in university buildings over the past two weeks were reportedly packing their bags. According to sources, the premises of the National Technical University of Athens and the Athens University law school were slowly emptying. University rectors were due to start taking stock today of the damage wreaked during the sit-ins. Sources said windows had been smashed and chunks had been hacked out of marble staircases and floors for use as missiles against riot police.

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