Greek police clash with protesters over campus police plan

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Police used tear gas to disperse crowds during a rally in Athens to protest plans to create a state security division on university campuses.

Mass gatherings are banned under current lockdown rules imposed due to the pandemic, but members and supporters of student and left-wing groups joined a rally on Thursday near parliament in central Athens.

Greece’s center-right government abolished a decades-old ban on police entering universities, arguing that the measure had been frequently exploited to organize violent protests and even criminal activity.

The government plans to set up a police division on campus and limit access to university grounds to students, academic staff, employees and guests. As part of the proposed changes, the requirements for admission to the university will also be changed and deadlines will be set for the completion of degree courses. Free access to university areas is considered by many Greeks to be an important source of political dissent and which has helped develop resistance against authoritarian regimes of the past. The main left-wing opposition party, Syriza, supports the education protests and has described the proposed reforms as undemocratic and aimed at making universities “sterile and not free”.

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