REPORTING FROM ATHENS -- Thousands of protesters spilled into the streets of Athens on Wednesday, beating drums, blowing whistles and chanting “Thieves, robbers and crooks!” as a 24-hour strike brought Greece to a standstill.
The mostly peaceful demonstration was marred when stone-throwing youths bolted through the crowds, clashing with riot police outside Greece’s towering symbol of austerity: the Finance Ministry.
At least 10 protesters were detained as authorities fired tear gas to push militant crowds into surrounding side streets and away from public buildings. One man was seen bleeding from the head. Two officers, pelted with chunks of balustrades, were treated for head and chest injuries, authorities said.
Organized by the country's two biggest labor unions, the strike was the first since Greece's beleaguered socialist government unveiled a controversial property tax, pension cuts and plans to terminate 30,000 public sector jobs by the end of the year in a desperate bid to stave off a default.
Flights were grounded, state schools closed and government offices shut as tens of thousands of angry civil servants walked off their jobs.
-- Anthee Carassava
Photo: A Greek riot police officer charges a demonstrator during clashes in Athens on Oct. 5, 2011. Credit: Alkis Konstantinidis / European Pressphoto Agency