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Eye witness from Thessaloniki

About the author

Alexis S, a 27-year-old peaceful protester from Thessaloniki, writes to openDemocracy about his experience of participating in the demonstrations.

"What was left behind after the protests in Greece is something that anyone can easily trace, as the majority of what happened during or after the demonstrations can be found either online or through TV reporting. Without a doubt, such coverage focused on the most sensational, frightening, collective and dramatic cases of the countless incidents that took place in Greece's major cities since Saturday night.

What was the prevailing feeling though, during all those displays of protest against the police mentality and the state actions - or inactions?

First of all, there was enthusiasm. Despite a general feeling of grief, the fact that the majority of the demonstrators were young, with a large part of them even being under age, resulted in widespread energy and impatience.

Each protester was behaving differently, according to their age. The students felt the case affected them the most, while the rest of the youth was equally enraged but was also looking to express their overall resistance towards the system. Those of an older age were the ones who appeared to have suffered the most and their presence symbolised society's reaction against their treatment by the state.

The protest participants were of course coming from different sides of the political spectrum, however the starring role was taken over by the most extreme, violent and bad-tempered ones, who transformed their rage into actions, drawing a section of the students into them. The main body of the protest was walking along launching verbal attacks but, as the police were absent following clear governmental orders to avoid the risk of across-the-board clashes, many others were standing on the pavements, left and right of the protest, holding iron bars, rocks or even Molotov bombs.

From then on, the peaceful protesters watched as the streets and the shops were given over to chaos, with some of them attempting to put the youngest of the rioters off and some continuing marching frightened, saying that at least the majority of the stores belonged to big chains and multinationals, something that was not true on all occasions however.

That is how things progressed, with the protests reaching their peak until police tolerance ran out. Inevitably, tear-gas was released which forced the large section of ordinary citizens who participated to scatter as they were not ready to be engaged in a war conflict.

The ones who stayed at the forefront were, besides those who were just looking for rioting, the people who believed that they could be in the place of 15-year-old Alexandros. In many occasions, they had also faced the abuse of police authority, surely in a milder way, as when the police decided to act, they again showed signs of wrong mentality and guidance."

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