It was an unequal fight. On the one side the Greek riot police equipped with helmets, shields and batons. On the other side, simple farmers carrying nothing but crocks used to tend their sheep on the idyllic island of Crete.
But the riot police managed to hold out for several minutes before their vehicles and personnel turned and fled at top speed through the streets of Athens in the early hours of this morning.
Unprecedented pictures, say the Greek media.
Cretan farmers had been refused permission to disembark with their tractors at Piraeus harbour after sailing overnight from Heraklion. They proceeded peacefully by underground and foot into the centre of Athens in the early hours, the first group of farmers from around the country , who are heading to Athens today for a three day protest at crushing taxes and social security hikes.
I think a pretty reasonable request by farmers from Crete to be allowed to stage a “symbolic occupation” of the Ministry of Agriculture, (their ministry, paid for by their taxes), was rejected. Clashes broke out. The police used tear gas.
The Greek police are like something out of a 1930s B movie I can now say from personal experience. Their standards of ethics and professionalism leave room for improvement. And Alexis Tsipras has already unleashed the full violence of his police attack dogs on the farmers at the very start of their protests in Athens.
Nevertheless, Farmers can oust Tsipras by blockading motorways and railways and besieging Athens, Thessaloniki with their tractors. Preventing supplies entering the city will force Tsipras to his knees, thought it might take longer.