The center of Thessaloniki was left in flames on Thursday as violent clashes between protesters and Greek riot police took place in the northern Greek city.
The protesters were demonstrating against a law that calls for police on the premises of Greek universities.
A number of people all dressed in black broke out from the crowd of student protesters and threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at officers as they met the line of Greek riot police who were called to disperse the group of anarchists.
According to the most recent reports, a member of the Greek riot police, as well as a protester, have been injured after the clashes in Thessaloniki.
Demonstrators, among them students, teachers, and members of teacher unions, also protested in the Greek capital of Athens on Thursday, but no violence was reported.
The group called for the law to be overturned as they marched through the center of Athens.
Protesters in Thessaloniki demonstrated against police in universities, called for schools to reopen before clashes
The violent disturbances broke out as student protestors demonstrated against the Greek government’s bill that calls for a police presence in the country’s universities, the end of a decades-long policy of so-called “university asylum” in Greece.
Additionally, Thursday’s protestors urged the government to open all schools safely across the country. Currently, only Greek high schools are open for in-person classes.
All high school students and teachers must also conduct free self-tests twice each week to attend school.
All other schools, including universities, are operating online as of now.
Protests against Education law and police on campus
The controversial law calls for the presence of 1,000 uniformed, unarmed guards on Greece’s university campuses. These guards will answer to the Greek Police Force, and have similar policing duties.
This move is incredibly controversial in a country where the presence of police in universities has been banned since the 1980s.
Police were barred from university campuses in Greece in 1982, in response to the Polytechnic uprising years earlier. In 1973, students protesting the country’s right-wing military dictatorship were brutally murdered by police and military forces at the Athens Polytechnic University.
Activists see the recent move as a move back toward a dark period in the country’s history, while the government argues that the law is necessary after many instances of drug dealing, vandalism, violence and looting by hooligans were reported on Greek campuses.
Additionally, the bill sets a limit on the time individuals may spend on campus of an additional two years for those completing four-year degrees, and three extra years for those attending programs that last for over four years.
Since higher education at public universities in Greece is free, a large portion of the population seeks out higher education. Often, however, students in Greece are known to extend their studies for many years, courtesy of taxpayers, a practice that lawmakers are hoping to curb with the law.