The protests demanding justice for the cover up of the murder of Martin Neshkovski, continued in spite of Government’s demonstration of force the day before. On May 6, several thousands more protesters marched the streets of Skopje, while the protests also spread through Bitola and Prilep.

Following the tradition established with the 2011 protests against police brutality, the protesters decided gather every day at 6 pm until justice is done. As strong police forces blocked the streets around the government building, the initial protest location, the mass of people turned around and went to protest in front of the Parliament. Several dozens remained sitting in the blocked streets redirecting the newcomers. Some pointed that with the blockade, the Government broke Article 21 of the Constitution of Republic of Macedonia:

Citizens have the right to assemble peacefully and to express public protest without prior announcement or a special license.
The exercise of this right may be restricted only during a state of emergency or war.

While the first protest sparked with exposure of leaked tapes indicating involvement of highest government officials in the murder cover up had about 5.000 participants, the second one had two to three times more. The brother of the murder victim, who addressed the crowd, estimated the number to around 15.000. Prior to the protests activists who use the hashtag #протестирам (I protest!) to coordinate warned the people not to bring children, to prevent them from being harmed if the government orders new violent reprisals.

Peaceful protest demanding responsibility for cover up of murder of Martin Neshkovski in Skopje. Photo: Vancho Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.
Peaceful protest demanding responsibility for cover up of murder of Martin Neshkovski in Skopje. Photo: Vancho Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

As intended, the protest was peaceful, with demands for resignation and criminal responsibility for all officials involved in the cover up of the murder. However, after several hours, as the crowd started to thin, number of protesters warned about the increased presence of provocateurs. A group of “football fans” wearing hoods and masks started to coalesce and throw objects at the Parliament and the police cordon separating the building from the mass of people standing or sitting on the street, lawns and nearby park.

To prevent further escalation, being mindful that the same kind of incident was used the day before for massive police onslaught, a group of women spontaneously formed a human shield, protecting the police officers from the thrown missiles, which included glass bottles. META.mk reported:

Although there were several attempts for provocation by fifteen protesters, protest for justice for Martin Neshkovski, which instead of in front of the Government was held in front of the Assembly, ended peacefully.

The last attempt of part of the protesters to initiate violence was prevented by group of female activists, who stood between them and the police.

A dozen protesters remained sitting on the grass in front of the Assembly and are talking.

Some participants collected waste and plastic bottles from the grass and the road, but there were some who, even though the road was put into use, didn’t allow vehicles to pass.

Most of the special forces and police vehicles left.

Few bottles and eggs were thrown at the building of the Assembly, but there were no seriously injured policemen or protesters.

Protesters called citizens to join them on a peaceful protest tomorrow at 6 pm, but the location has not yet been precisely determined.

Journalist Vlado Apostolov (@apostolov80) posted a video of the event.

In the aftermath of the protest, Twitter users quickly identified the young woman who initiated the valorous forming of the human shield as one of their own. @Momichet0 later responded with an explanation:

Honestly, I felt good about the praise, but I did not feel brave at the moment, nor I now feel heroic. I was terrified.
And I didn’t stand up because I like the policemen. I do not justify them and I do not think they have no choice.
I stood up because the hooligan will create a problem and then run away, and the innocent protesters will suffer the consequences like yesterday, and would have been thrashed again.

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