Saturday, December 05, 2009

Athens protests this weekend - A survival guide

Photograph from Greek Riots in Photos -

I thought I'd share a few tips with those covering the anniversary of the death of the Greek teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos this weekend. I hope they prove useful.

1 - The potential for violence has increased rapidly over the last few weeks so be prepared for clashes.

2 - Being a reporter is no guarantee of safety, especially with the police. The Greek cops have a long and inglorious history concerning photographers. They will not hesitate to use force if they feel you are photographing them.

3 - Many of the demonstrators, especially the anarchists view the media and hence reporters with the same contempt they hold for the police. Use discretion when taking pictures around them, if challenged put away your camera immediately unless you want it smashed. However, most other political/social groups are more tolerant of the media.

4 - The riot police have changed tactics recently so expect extensive use of tear gas and flash grenades. Maalox antacid tablets mixed with water can help somewhat. Though not with breathing.

5 - The grounds of the university of Athens are officially off limits to the police, so make sure you know where the nearest entrances are if the police advance. Being a foreigner or reporter will not protect you.

6 - If you do get detained make sure you have ID otherwise you risk days of belong held in a police cell.Try to get the number of some Greek friends in case you get arrested.

7 - Areas such as Exarchia are a rabbit warren of small streets, get familiar with the local geography so that if you have to make a quick retreat you know where you're heading.

8 - Running shoes are a must.

More tips from Endiaferon

Protesters will be formed into blocks. It is probable that anarchist protesters who have intention to clash will be in groups around protesters' blocks. If they start throwing rocks or other objects at the cops things may escalate in no time. I advise you that when you see the first signs of a clash, stay close to a political/student block.

In case of intense use of tear gas don't panic and don't try to run away from the main group of protesters in alleys etc. The best thing you can do (especially if you can't open your eyes) is get into a group, grab the person next to you and walk together.

A group of lawyers will be around in the protest to provide law advice in case someone gets arrested. These are their phone numbers:









If you get arrested, call them as quickly as you can. Do not sign anything in the police station and have in mind that cops may try to deceive you.

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