Members of anarchist and extreme leftist groups wreaked havoc across Greece well into the night of Thursday, November 17, burning, smashing property and occasionally clashing with police forces. In what has become an annual “tradition”, anarchists in and around the streets of the Athens Polytechnic, which was the epicentre of the violent protests, rioted until the first hours of Friday, when police finally opened Patision avenue to the public. The spark was lit when a group of 1,000 anarchists, who were marching alongside 16,000 protesters towards the US Embassy, in memory of the November 17 student uprising against the military junta in Greece, cut off from the rest of the peaceful crowd and were “escorted” by a strong police force to the area of Exarchia. At around 7pm, a large group took refuge in the grounds of the Polytechnic and started hurling petrol bombs and slabs of pavement against police forces outside the compounds and setting fires to rubbish bins. Stournari avenue and the adjacent streets had suddenly turned into a war zone zone, with extreme leftists and anarchists using the university building as their “raiding post”. Questions remain as to how the groups were able to access the university compounds, as the administration was responsible for locking the main gates and denying the entry to anyone for the day of the celebrations. Once the rioting and the destruction of property was in full flight, police forces adopted a very passive stance, merely observing the anarchists continue to cause mayhem.
Meanwhile, similar clashes took place in other major cities across Greece. In Thessaloniki a group of anarchists hurled molotov cocktail bombs and stones against a police riot unit on Egnatia and Kamaras junction during protests, with the clashes continuing in the yard of the Aristotle Polytechnic department, where the anarchists found refuge. In the city of Volos, in central Greece, anarchists also clashed with police forces, while in Ioannina in northwestern Greece, Patra in the Peloponnese and Heraklion in Crete similar incidents between police and anarchist groups were reported.