December 6th, 2010. Athens, Greece: 2 years anniversary from the killing of Gregory, (Alexandros Gregoropoulos) a 15 year old, killed by the police in cold blood. People in Greece gathered to demonstrate, to Gregory’s honour. Also, a movement of social solidarity against the political establishment, the economic measures which were imposed and since then have brought the worst conditions in the lives of the Greek people, creating a social, economic and political crisis.
In the centre of Athens there was a big demonstration. The movement of the people in Greece since May 2010 has become stronger and has increased considerably in numbers. Conservative newspapers reported that 70% of the Greek population at some point has taken part in meetings of the people’s movement.
As we were walking towards the Greek Parliament, in groups, peacefully, there was heavy police presence all along the side streets. The special police force (MAT, in Greek) is heavily armed with plastic shields, helmets, batons, tear gas, guns. We continued the march, holding each other, forming lines of chains. Walking in groups, holding the ones next to us, what is called “forming chains”, keeping a steady march rhythm is a way to protect from police violence. They usually hit people outside groups.
We went to the demonstration prepared, we had scarves, masks, bottle of water and Maalox liquid, an aluminum/magnesium oral antacid, used to help neutralize or reduce stomach acid. People put Maalox all over their face, around their eyes, in order to have some protection against tear gas. Since 2010 the chemicals that the police use against the people are much stronger, with strong effects on the people’s respiration system, skin, nervous system and more…
When we passed the parliament and turned towards Panepistimiou street, we heard the tear gas shooting noise, we kept on walking with our group. The gas was so strong that in a few seconds I had difficulty in breathing. I started coughing. I spit again and again so I would not swallow the poison that was all around us. The skin on my face was burning. People started to brake the “chain lines”. Everyone was trying to hide their face, nose, mouth. People were coughing. Water and Maalox was passed from the one to the next. We were attacked. It was a war and we weren’t armed. We could see fire and police at the side streets. I was scared. I was angry. I knew that we shouldn’t start running and that we should stay together in our group. Some people tried to continue to shout loud the slogans. Our group was broken. The rest of us we walked faster to catch up with the next group. People were shouting don’t leave the groups, stay calm, don’t run.
The demonstration continued to Exarheia and stopped at the place were Gregory was killed.
The city centre was closed for hours. The police had taken over.
We went home. We took of our shoes off before getting in our home. We washed all our clothes. We took a shower. The effects of tear gas are felt for days. - Tina