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Athens police fired tear gas to stop a Greeks-only food handout by nationalist party Golden Dawn before it began.
Police in Athens broke up a Greeks-only food handout by far-right party Golden Dawn on Thursday, carrying out Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis's vow to prevent "thuggery" in his city.
Riot police met Golden Dawn supporters at Athens' central Syntagma Square as they arrived with trucks full of food, using tear gas to stop them from unloading, and scattering the members, reports Greek news website Enet.
According to the Guardian, Golden Dawn's members – who are stridently opposed to immigration – had planned to hand out Easter treats to Greek families who couldn't afford to celebrate the Orthodox holiday due to austerity measures, calling it "food that is aimed for the thousands of Greek families blighted by the genocidal policies of the memorandum" (referring to Greece's international loan agreement).
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The situation was normalized around 8:00 AM, reports Greek Reporter, and around 40 Golden Dawn supporters were dispersed after attempting to push away the police forces — though the BBC notes that the distribution appears to have continued in other parts of the city later that day.
In the wake of the harsh austerity measures in Greece, the formerly fringe Golden Dawn is now the fifth largest party in the nation. The party holds 18 seats in Greece's 300-seat parliament.
Mayor Kamini hailed the successful police action as a victory, reiterating his stance against violent political methods.
"Of course there are problems in the city because of the economic crisis," he said to Enet. "[But] the idea of thuggery will not pass. There is a coordinated state and municipal authorities. As long as I’m mayor, this will not pass."
"Solidarity is one thing, theatrical philanthropy is another."