ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Police have used tear gas to disperse crowds at a rally in Athens organized to protest plans to set up a state security division at university campuses.

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

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

The government plans to set up a campus police division and limit entrance to university grounds to students, academic staff, employees and guests.

Free access to university areas is seen by many Greeks as an important source of political dissent and which allowed resistance to be developed against authoritarian regimes in the past.

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