Whilst taking a jaunt around Athens and looking for the student travel shop I became aware of an agitated feeling in the air. I decided to investigate and you can imagine my surprise to find the above motorcycle on fire in the middle of the street. Then further imagine my astonishment to see that it was actually a police motorcycle. This, in my mind could only mean one thing. Civil unrest.
The sheer number of young people around immediately told me that this was a student riot in the making. Being an inquisitive young pup I followed the students to find out where the action was and it wasn't long before I found a police building surrounded by students. I was amazed as this was certainly nothing like anything I'd seen at home in England.
I spoke with some of the young demonstrators and found out that this was a protest against the government's education budget. That was the story I got, but if you look carefully at the larger banner in the picture it shows violence at the hands of a police officer. I don't understand enough Greek to be able to read the banner(click here for a closer look). If you can understand what this is all about E-mail me at email@example.com.
There was a point when I wanted to get photos of both the police and the students so I ambled about and took one shot of the students throwing bottles and stones while moving away and one shot of the police throwing the bottles and stones back while moving forward.
Suddenly there was a cry that could have meant charge and the whole mass, students and police, moved in one direction. That direction just seemed to rush by me and I knew that I had to get out of there as the police were heading my way and they would certainly mistake me for a student.
I sped for the nearest shop doorway and it was obvious that they had thought of me as a student as the owners blocked the door and shook their heads at me.
In a half panic I shouted at the top of my voice, "English, English!!" and luckily this was enough to convince them that I was no student. So fast that I hardly sensed it (although that could have been adrenalin) I was literally dragged into the shop and the door slammed shut. I took the shot below as soon as I'd been dragged inside. I have a feeling that had the shop owners not realised then I would most certainly have been truncheon fodder. The shot is not brilliant as there is too much light directly on the lens but you can make out the first police arriving at the spot where I was. Note also the white van that is also in the shot above.
Did you see the student riots in Athens
in Oct'91? If so, mail me!