Aghios Panteleimonas, the central Athens neighborhood that has become synonymous with racial tension over the last few months, experienced more unrest on Wednesday night when dozens of local residents, supported by extreme right-wingers, clashed with police and self-styled anarchists.
The Aghios Paneleimonas Residence Association, which is opposed to the presence of immigrants and refugees in the area, held a meeting on Wednesday evening in Attiki Square, where dozens of homeless Afghan families sleep rough.
Journalists were forced to leave the meeting, where residents were due to discuss plans to clear the neighborhoods of homeless migrants as well as who to support in the November local elections.
At around midnight, some 40 residents and members of ultranationalist groups marched along Acharnon Street with the aim of reaching a building known as Villa Amalia, which has been taken over by anti-establishment protesters. The self-styled anarchists responded by organizing a march of their own toward Aghios Panteleimonas Square. The two groups had to be separated by riot police, who had bottles and rocks thrown at them. Officers spent the next few hours trying to break up the anti-immigrant protest. Five people aged between 19 and 30 were arrested and charged with attempted grievous bodily harm, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Authorities said one of the suspects has a criminal record. They all faced a prosecutor and will be tried on October 12.
The residents’ association accused the police of allowing the self-styled anarchists to damage property but coming down hard on the right-wing protesters.