Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 5th Riots

All day, I was listening for the roar of the demonstration in Syntagma. But life went on as much as normal as could with all the strikes in Pagrati. Paul, Drew and I left for Syntagma around 12:30 and didnt hear too much until we had walked nearly through the National Gardens. As we exited the garden, walked through the Zappio parking way we saw the dark blue buses - yes, we would see action today.
We made it to the main road that leads directly to the square. There we met Communist protestors, mostly from the party of P.A.ME parading in the street with their flags on 2x4 planks of wood. Yes, itwould be good. The situation had escalated beyond the belief of the Greeks. For years, they have been saying (and been told) that things would get better ... but now thier dreams were being crushed by the IMF's imposed (DEH, in Greek) austerity measures.
We slowly mingled our way to the center of the the demonstration. When we arrived, nothing was REALLY happening ... a lot of disorganised chanting. The chanting became loud, everyone was repeatedly yelling "sfegies" and we saw the reporters rush after the re-enforcements. A group of Greeks were trying to make thier way through the police lines.
The Greeks trying to break police lines.
They didnt make it. It resulted in much bashing with batons, kicking and a teargas bomb or two thrown into the crowd. The Police quickley re-established themselves on the stairs. Things began to quiet down for a while - makes sense, it take a minute to recover from the teargas. Then the police started sending re-enforcements to the stations infront of where we were standing. Uh-oh... never good. Then I began to notice that the chanting was becoming louder, and closer to me ... finally it was at our backs, the police to our front. CRAP! We were trapped! If the Greeks decided to rush the police, we would be caught in the choas. We quickly moved closer towards the National Gardens, stationing ourselves directly infront of Parliament.
Before we moved, when the police were sending the re-enforcements.
BOOM ... BOOM!!! Syntagma Square quickly filled with smoke from the teargas, and people were fleeing towards us. We began to run for cover to the metro, when we realized we might get caught there. Bad idea... again we headed for the garden.
After we had moved to the center, when the teargas when off in the squar.
But stopped about 150 feet from where we had been, at the end of the tram line to continue observing. We were safe from the gas, people were assembling here ... no what would happen? BOOM ... BOOOM!!! Again tear gas went off - this time right in the spot where we HAD been standing. The crowd was in uproar, the police in frenzy. We stayed where we were ... The Greeks began to attack the police stationed at Parliament. A young Greek man, went up with a 2x4 stick and attacked the police. Then everything on hand began to be thrown ... empty and full water bottles, metal stuff, flares, stuff on fire ...

We moved to where the picture was taken, on the side walk to the right is the garden (though the gate was closed). More tear gas. Police running from all sides. It was then that I looked past Syntagma square towards Omonia and Panepistamou ... black, billowing clouds obstructed my expected view. There was a fire on Stadiou street... perhaps it was the bomb, I dont know. I thought that I didnt hear it right as I was leaving ... but it is hard to be sure.

Then all of a sudden, all the Greeks back into the street, I look behind me... SHIT! The riot police are charging towards us. We dart in front of them to the gate to take cover ... I thinking that if we really had to we could climb the fence ... They run pass us, seeing us sitting as bystanders. But we were behind them (never seek protection from the police ... add that to the list of things to remember when at a riot)... empty and full water bottle were thrown at them (and therefor us), paper, beer and pop can ... garbace everthing. What ever missed them or rickashayed off thier shields we were fare game for. I curled up into a sitting fetal postition, ready for whater was going to hit me, when Paul stood in front of me bending over. He blocked a can of something that would have hit me. We then dashed with a couple of other Greeks into the gardens and made out way home.

1 comment:

  1. Girl, u r crazy! I am glad u r coming home where you will be safer.