Greek police detain 100 in central Athens as locals protest against “lawlessness”

At least 100 people were detained on Thursday during a major police operation in the Exarchia district of the Greek capital, the municipal radio station Athens 9.84 reported, while locals staged a protest demanding tougher security measures in the area.

In recent years, Exarchia has become the stronghold of anarchists who often clash with police, leaving behind smashed windows and torched cars.

For the first time after a decade, residents and store owners got together to denounce “lawlessness” and ask for drastic measures to tackle crime in the neighborhood.

Thursday’s protest came as police forces evacuated dozens of people, mainly migrants, from two occupied buildings and arrested three foreign nationals on charges of drug possession during a raid on a nearby apartment.

The two men aged 24 and 40 and a 23-year-old woman had 1.75 kilos of cannabis in their possession, according to a Greek police press statement.

The police sweep came a few days after 40-odd hooded individuals, armed with clubs, knives and pistols, said eye witnesses, attacked and slightly injured two Coast Guard officers who were escorting a prosecutor investigating a drugs case in the area.

The Coast Guard officers raided a house in Exarchia following the arrest of a foreign national at Piraeus port, who claimed that he had bought drugs from a squatter there.

A woman who was briefly detained during last week’s raid and had escaped the attack by the hooded individuals was among the squatters apprehended again on Thursday, police sources said.

One of the buildings which were evacuated on Thursday had been occupied since Nov. 17, 2018. It was not an abandoned, derelict building, but was left vacant for only ten days before it was occupied by squatters, the owner claimed.