Greek communists try to topple Truman statue

Athens (AFP) –


A group of Greek communist students on Monday attempted to topple a statue of former US president Harry S Truman during an anti-American demonstration in Athens, police said.

Riot police fired tear gas to prevent the students from bringing down the three-metre (10-foot) bronze statue using a chainsaw and ropes.

At least two people were injured, reports said.

Around 700 people were demonstrating at the time, part of a wave of protests against this weekend's aerial bombing campaign in Syria by the United States, France and Britain.

The statue was erected in 1963 in recognition of America's 33rd president who approved the 1948 Marshall Plan of economic assistance that helped rebuild war-shattered Greece.

It was built by late US sculptor Felix Weldon, best known for the Arlington County Marine Corps War Memorial.

The Truman statue has been a frequent target in anti-American demonstrations in Greece.

It was bombed in 1986 and sawn off at the legs a decade later. In 1999 it returned to its pedestal just in time for an official visit to Athens by then US president Bill Clinton.

There is strong anti-American sentiment in Greece over Washington's support for the brutal army junta that ruled the country from 1967 to 1974.

Truman is also reviled for ordering the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that hastened Japan's surrender in World War II.