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Greek Riot Police Face Protest... from Anti-Austerity Police Officers

Anti-austerity police union prevents riot police busses from leaving for protest

Common Dreams staff

Greek policemen, and members of police unions (R) push riot police during scuffles outside a riot police facility in Athens September 6, 2012. (Credit: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

Greek riot police, gathered aboard transport buses headed to confront upcoming anti-austerity protests in the northern city of Thessaloniki, were prevented from leaving their headquarters on Thursday morning by rowdy protesters.

But just who were these protesters blocking them?

Other Greek police officers—many in uniform and waving union and anti-austerity banners—protesting announced budget cuts that would see their pay and pension benefits slashed in yet the latest round of government-ordered budget measures.

As the Press Association reports, approximately "50 members of the Greek Police Officers' Association picketed police facilities at Zografou, north-east of central Athens," and blocking  buses destined for the city of Thessaloniki, where weekend anti-austerity protests are scheduled.

Reuters reports:

Scuffles broke out as riot police tried to clear the entrance of several dozen police union members - many in uniform - chanting anti-austerity slogans and holding banners.

"They would not let riot police buses depart for Thessaloniki," a police official said...

Some riot police appeared reluctant to tackle uniformed officers. "They make us fight against our own brothers," said one riot policeman who declined to be named.

The police union is planning to participate in a larger protest in central Athens later on Thursday, with officers in uniform joining members of the Coast Guard and Fire Service whose pay and benefits are also on the chopping block.

New official unemployment numbers were released on Thursday, showing that 24.4 of the Greek population is out of work and confirming for many on the left that austerity-driven policies have done nothing to help and everything to thwart hopes of an economic recovery.

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