Police unleash tear gas & rubber bullets on parking ticket protesters in Georgia (VIDEO)
The rally in Batumi, a city of over 120,000 residents, began on Saturday night when protesters gathered near the main police station.
The protest was called after local police arrested six people over an argument about a parking fine that started when a man received a ticket, which he refused to accept, and argued with the police, supported by his father and four other locals. All six were detained for “refusing to comply with lawful demands of police,” RIA reports citing local media.
The subsequent protest turned violent when the demonstrators attempted to enter the police building demanding the release of the six detainees, after which special police units deployed tear gas and rubber bullets against them.
The city’s mayor, Giorgi Ermakov, told local TV that the protesters overturned and burned cars and damaged traffic lights and trash cans. They finally dispersed on Sunday morning.
About 40 people were arrested following the clashes, Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Mghebrishvili said. At least 33 people, including 15 police officers, were injured, according to Zaal Mikeladze, the health minister for the autonomous Adjara region, in which Batumi is located.
Georgia’s Interior Ministry said later that all the six people who were detained over the parking fine have been released. However, an administrative investigation into the incident is ongoing. “These people will stand before the court,” Mghebrishvili said.
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili blamed “destructive political forces” for the violence in Batumi.
“Unfortunately, these forces do not hesitate to try to shake the foundation of the stability; they commit violence against representatives of state institutions,” Kvirikashvili said.
Kvirikashvili added that everyone responsible for the protest will be punished.