OPINION

Blaming it all on the police

It?s been just over a week since the terrible events at Syntagma Square and in nearby streets that resulted in the core of the city becoming deserted, another major blow being dealt to tourism and the police being accused by the bulk of the media of using an excessive amount of chemicals to quell the riot.

It is incredible and at the same indicative of the kind of mentality that has come to prevail in the country — that the overwhelming majority of public opinion shapers, ranging from loudmouthed star television and radio reporters to the leaders and representatives of left-wing parties, came together and continue to stick together over the point of view that the police alone are to blame for the mayhem last week.

It is obvious that none of these people heard about the fact that protesters had gathered on Syntagma Square and in the surrounding streets to block the entrance of MPs to Parliament so they could not vote on the midterm agreement.

None of them also appears aware of the fact that a number of the ?peaceful? protesters showed that they were intent on storming Parliament. Mainly, however, they obviously did not see the hundreds of chaos-makers taking advantage of the opportunity to attack, in an organized fashion and all dressed in the same style (shorts, backpacks and gas masks), intent on making as big a mess as possible. They also failed to notice the huge efforts made after the riot to clear up the mess and repair the huge damage wreaked on the square and which will have to be paid for by taxpayers and business owners in the area.

No one is saying that the Greek police are among the best in the world. There is plenty of corruption in the force?s ranks, its training is nothing to brag about and its administrators are blatantly lacking. But, after all, it is unlikely that the police could be much different to the rest of the state apparatus, which suffers from similar if not more serious problems.

On the other hand, it is also obvious that a large section of the media is completely paranoid in regard to the role of the police in a country that has enjoyed democracy for just 35 years in its recent history. Unless, of course, they assume that Greece is no longer a democracy because the young members of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) like to go around saying that it is ?at war? and the party chief files lawsuits against the police.

Even in democracies, the role of the police is to enforce and maintain law and order, as well as to ensure the safety of the country?s citizens. In Greece, however, the media is dominated by populism and a pseudo-leftist rationale that ignores what the role of the police ought to be during a situation in which law and order are derailed and the safety of citizens is put at risk, as was the case on June 29 in central Athens. It also seems that the stars of the electronic media (mostly) were annoyed by the excessive use of chemicals, without, however, questioning what the risk of people being killed would be if the situation was allowed to degenerate into person-to-person combat. In any case, the police are not there to shower petals on people throwing chunks of marble at them.

The stance adopted by much of the media unfortunately encourages the mob mentality and discourages the police from doing their job. It is not unlikely that we will see the result of this combination at some other time when an attempt is made against the state. If things get out of control, it is a certainty that the police will be blamed again.