Date: Tue, 18 Nov 97 12:18:07 CST
Clashes on the Streets of Athens
Arm the Spirit, 17 November 1997
ATHENS (November 17, 1997 http://www.nando.net) - Greek riot police and masked youths clashed in Athens on Monday as thousands of demonstrators marched to commemorate a bloody student uprising in 1973.
Police threw stun grenades at a group of about 50 protesters who had built roadblocks, set fire to cartons, and begun hurling stones. One passer-by, hit by a stone, was seen bleeding from the head, witnesses said.
The protesters retreated into the grounds of Athens Polytechnic university, scene of a crackdown by Greece's military dictatorship on November 17, 1973.
Though the 1973 uprising was put down brutally with tanks, the event is seen as the beginning of the end of the junta, which ruled from 1967 to 1974.
More than 15,000 peaceful demonstrators marched through the center of Athens on a traditional route from the Polytechnic to the U.S. embassy. Many Greeks say Washington propped up the junta. The demonstrators, many waving Greek or communist flags, chanted various slogans calling for the government to put an end its fiscal belt-tightening, for NATO to leave the Balkans, and for jobs, peace, and democracy.
"Out with the Americans!" was a common chant.
Officials said a record 3,000 police had been placed on duty for the day.
The demonstration itself is usually peaceful, but groups of self-styled anarchists following the march have in previous years often gone on a rampage through central Athens, attacking police and setting fire to buildings and cars. Two years ago, the youths barricaded themselves into the university after a night of clashes with the police and set fire to the building, almost destroying it.