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Youssef said all of the assailants were men, most of them wearing sweatshirts, and some

of them hooded. He did not report the attack to the police because he had no faith they

would help him. 62

There are conflicting reports about police behavior during the worst of the violence. Riot

police were out in force during and after the demonstration and engaged in “running

battles” with attackers, according to some press accounts. 63 Abubeker Adam told us that

though he had to insist, the police had responded to his call for help, escorting him and a

friend down Tritis Septemvriou Street (where the murder of Kantaris took place), and

encircling them to protect them from an angry mob. 64

At the same time there were allegations of police failing to act to prevent or end the

violence, or arrest those responsible. Badara Gueye, who recalled seeing hundreds of

people armed with bats, complained that the police “did nothing.” 65 Abduwahab

Mohammed, a 23-year-old Somali, told us what happened when a large group attacked a

gathering place for the Somali community: “The police came and just stood and the racists

ran away… The police told the Somali people to go home…and then the police left.” 66

On May 16, 2011, Athens mayor Yiorgos Kaminis condemned what he called political

violence by extremist groups in some parts of the city and accused the police of inertia in

combating right-wing attacks on migrants. 67 A few days later, he complained that “the

police are slow to react or are scandalously absent when extreme rightist groups carry out

criminal attacks on migrants.” 68

62 Youssef had experienced a prior attack in 2009, in which a group of young men surrounded him when he tried to cross

Aghios Panteleimonas square. Youssef sought help from nearby police officers, pointing to one of the young men who was

walking away. “The police said, ‘don’t point like that, where are you from, you create problems, what are you doing here.’

They checked my papers and then told me to leave immediately.” Ibid.

63 “25 injured during far-right rampage against immigrants in Greece’s capital,” Associated Press, May 12, 2011,

http://www.washingtonpost.world/new_clashes_break_out_in_athens_over_demonstrators_injury/2011/05/12/AFEFkHOG_

story.html?wprss=rss_homepage (accessed May 15, 2011).

64 Human Rights Watch interview with Abuubeker Adam, Athens, December 12, 2011.

65 Human Rights Watch interview with Badara Gueye, Athens, January 4, 2012.

66 Human Rights Watch interview with Abduwahab Mohammed, Athens, December 15, 2011.

67 “G. Kaminis ‘Mixed patrols, stop to foreigners,’” (Γ. Καμίνης: «Μεικτές περιπολίες, στοπ στους αλλοδαπούς»),To Vima, May

16, 2011, http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=400988 (accessed April 12, 2012).

68 Kathy Tzilivakis, “Politicians urged to tackle Athens crime,” Athens News, May 21, 2011.

HATE ON THE STREETS 48

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