A few minutes before 8 p.m. the rally commemorating the 43rd Polytechnic anniversary went awry when a fire erupted at the courtyard of the National Technical University of Athens (Polytechnic). The fire brigade was unable to intervene due to blockades that young people had put up in the area.
The incident occurred as the last protestors were leaving the American Embassy and groups of young people stormed into and occupied the Gini building of the educational institute that is central to the Polytechnic student revolt of 1973, that essentially led to the fall of the Greek dictatorship.
Young people had started gathering at the Polytechnic, with commotion around the region of Exarcheia that is frequented by anarchists. They created a huge barrier made up of desks, chairs and other objects outside the building.
They threw rocks and molotov bombs at police forces in the area, shouting slogans, while tearing a Greek flag to shreds and treading over it. Prosecutor Ilias Zagoraias had already given the Greek Police permission to intervene and tear gas was fired into the area. The goal of the police is to surround Exarcheia so that incidents are contained within the area.
Earlier, an unmarked police van and its driver had come under attack by unidentified youths at the corner of Zaimi and Stournari streets where the Polytechnic is located. Youths that surrounded the van carrying police helmets and other material fled as riot police forces charged to the scene.
The stolen items were later displayed at nearby Exarcheia Square, an area that is frequented by anarchists.
Police say that about 100 masked individuals who came out of the university’s Gini building, where the sit-in was staged threw stones, smoke grenades and other objects as masked protestors threw objects against the riot police from rooftops.