Source Pravda.Ru

Feverish activity of Anti-globalization

Thousands of anti-war demonstrators clashed with Greek riot police in Athens' main tourist district Friday after a rally to protest U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's upcoming visit to the Olympics degenerated into a rock-throwing melee. Greek security forces pepper sprayed the crowd and launched at least one tear gas canister after confronting the protesters next to the Greek Parliament in Syntagma Square. The police acted after some demonstrators hurled bottles and rocks and were blocked from reaching the U.S. Embassy, their intended destination about a half mile away. In the ensuing ruckus, marchers set fire to trash cans and smashed some storefront windows before dispersing about an hour later. In spite of the violence, no serious injuries were reported. The contingent of about 500 police refrained from making mass arrests and spent most of their energy trying to direct the protesters away from nearby crowds of Olympic tourists, many of whom watched the action from a safe distance. Some journalists were not so lucky; at least three cameramen and reporters were physically assaulted by demonstrators. Political protests are a common occurrence in Greece, and it is not unusual for them to turn violent. There is a long history of anti-American and anti-capitalist sentiment among demonstrators here, although the Greek government and Olympics organizers had kept the Games free of such distractions until Friday night. The march was prompted by news that Powell will visit Athens on Sunday to attend the Police used tear gas Friday night to disperse more than 2,000 demonstrators who lit fires, smashed windows and beat up journalists while marching through downtown Athens to protest the weekend visit of Secretary of State Colin Powell. The demonstrators, who scuffled with police in front of the Parliament, fought running battles with riot squads trying to prevent them from reaching the U.S. Embassy. The embassy is not near any Olympic venues, but it is near the hotel being used by the International Olympic Committee and located on a major Olympic traffic lane. The protesters shouted slogans against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Powell was expected to arrive Saturday to meet Premier Costas Caramanlis and attend the closing ceremony of the Athens Olympics on Sunday night. Earlier, hundreds of riot police with shields prevented the protesters from heading toward the embassy, and the two sides faced off in front of the Greek Parliament building. The protesters marched in front of Athens University, beating drums, spraying graffiti on the walls and unfurling banners criticizing President Bush. Olympics' Closing Ceremonies and meet with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. An estimated 5,000 people joined in the demonstration, including labor unions, anarchists, Marxists and others opposed to U.S. foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, informs Azcentral. According to SI, Greece's small but influential Communist Party also said it would organize a protest march on Saturday from central Athens to the embassy. Although the government has said it would not ban the demonstrations, police have indicated they may prevent the protesters from reaching the embassy. Public protests are not banned during the Olympics, but the government has warned demonstrators they cannot close roads and lanes reserved for Olympic use. The right to protest and demonstrate is cherished by Greeks, following harsh restrictions imposed during a 1967-74 military dictatorship. The U.S. Embassy in central Athens is not near any Olympic venues, but it is near the hotel being used by the International Olympic Committee and located on a major Olympic traffic lane. "We have not officially been informed that they will not let us march. But there is no way we will not march. We will break any ban and let the police do what they think. It is our inalienable right to protest," anti-globalization activist Petros Constantinou told The Associated Press. Police used tear gas Friday night to disperse more than 2,000 demonstrators who lit fires, smashed windows and beat up journalists while marching through downtown Athens to protest the weekend visit of Secretary of State Colin Powell. The demonstrators, who scuffled with police in front of the Parliament, fought running battles with riot squads trying to prevent them from reaching the U.S. Embassy. The embassy is not near any Olympic venues, but it is near the hotel being used by the International Olympic Committee and located on a major Olympic traffic lane. The protesters shouted slogans against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Powell was expected to arrive Saturday to meet Premier Costas Caramanlis and attend the closing ceremony of the Athens Olympics on Sunday night. Earlier, hundreds of riot police with shields prevented the protesters from heading toward the embassy, and the two sides faced off in front of the Greek Parliament building. The protesters marched in front of Athens University, beating drums, spraying graffiti on the walls and unfurling banners criticizing President Bush, publishes NYTimes.

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