General strike rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki on Thursday, 11 March against a second wave of austerity measures dictated by eurozone finance ministers were met with preemptive and simultaneous police attacks, according to citizen media reports.
Tireless realtime citizen photojournalism
Citizen journalists reporting on rallies and clashes in both cities “carried the day”, once again using Twitter and resurrecting the #griots hashtag, to post regular updates that painted a picture of the conflicts quite different from that reported by international mainstream media.
Ακουστικά από μπροστά κροτου λαμψης και δακρυγόνα κοντά στο Πολυτεχνείο
Απρόκλητη χρήση χημικών αυτήν τη στιγμή μπροστά στη Χαλκέων!
From then on, and for nearly 4 hours, Odysseas used Twitter to provide a near continuous reporting of police actions throughout the march and successive skirmishes in downtown Athens, along with photos posted on yfrog from his cellphone, while PanwsK similarly posted reports from the significantly briefer, smaller and more peaceful rally in Thessaloniki.
Freelance photographers often crowd together for protection when covering protests, which makes them easy targets of police charges. Photojournalist endiaferon, who had captured a sneak police attack on photographers during a recent rally in time-lapse fashion, once again bore witness to police violence against reporters,
..and even against foreign correspondents:
Η ίδια διμοιρία επιτέθηκε σε ξένο φωτογράφο. The motherfucker went straight on me φώναζε ο ρεπόρτερ. Και τα δύο περιστατικά έγιναν δίπλα μου
The police here in Thessaloniki wanted to cause trouble, intervened when nothing was happening in order to provoke marchers #griots
What can u say about a place when teachers have to protect themselves from tear gas and pensioners are so angry they lob eggs at the cops?
Several citizen photojournalists, including Wherlock and endiaferon, later uploaded their take of the day on citizen photojournalism site Demotix, which had set up a dedicated Greece unrest hub during last December's riots.
Peaceful and violent video reports
Blogger Giorgos Sarris posted photos as well as videos from the massive and initially peaceful Athens workers’ rallies, comparing them in participation with the Polytechnic ones, in the years following the ousting of the colonels’ junta,
while blogger GiaNT posted several frontline videos of the skirmishes that followed around downtown Omonia Square between anarchists and police after the crackdown, and the ousting of riot police later on from Exarchia square -besieged by police since the socialist government took power- where 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was gunned down by police in December 2008.
Ministerial silence on Twitter
Besides multimedia reporting, many citizens simply used Twitter throughout the day to report and protest police brutality and the heavy, indiscriminate use of teargas in Athens; some, directly to the minister of Citizen Protection. Journalist and prolific blogger AnemosNaftilos cautioned,
Ηλικιωμένοι και μικρά παιδιά με αναπνευστικά προβλήματα. Εχει δημιουργηθεί πανικός.
while journalist Matthew Tsimitakis sought the reason for the crackdown,
Η πορεία σε αδικαιολογητο κλοιό και χημικά @chrisochoidis για ποιο λόγο ; Δεν υπάρχουν πουθενά βίαιες ομάδες. Είναι εργατική πορεία
and Andreas Trianta, the architect of an Obameter-style application to gauge fulfillment of the socialist government's campaign promises, angrily avowed:
@chrisochoidis μέρα ντροπής για όσους από μας στηρίζουν ΠΑΣΟΚ. Αδιανόητο να μη μπορούν πολίτες να διαδηλώνουν ελεύθερα επί κυβερνήσεως ΓΑΠ
A day earlier, the minister, who had responded to excessive police brutality charges during last December's riots with -as yet unimplemented- promises to ban teargas use and institute reforms, was confirming the much derided launch of an official Twitter account for the police. This time, however, remained conspicuously silent throughout the day and night.
Το Νέο Πρόσωπο της αστυνομίας μοιάζει ύποπτα με το παλιό. Έστω και με twitter account.
and an unnamed blogger summed up the seething popular frustration leading to the vicious circle of riots and crackdowns, aptly enough, in a Tumblr called “Things I learned“:
People are angry. Angry at bad politicians who are stealing their money, angry at bankers asking them to pay off their loans, angry at journalists for being corrupted, angry at “foreign powers” for wanting to destroy Greece, angry at their neighbor for being their neighbor. At some point the reason for all the anger stops having importance and what’s left is the process of setting it free. [..] It’s not just a financial crisis what we live. Causes should be searched deeper into the society. In case we want to be done with it.