December 09, 2008 10:59 AM
“Protesters threw Molotov cocktails and other missiles at police guarding parliament,” reported Agence France-Presse, which called the riots “the worst civil unrest to hit Greece in decades.”
In Berlin on Monday, about 15 people occupied the Greek consulate for several hours, according to the Associated Press. It’s not clear who the youths were, but they handed out pamphlets and hung a banner on a balcony that said, “Killed by the State.” They left peacefully. German police did not get involved because the consulate is not in their jurisdiction.
The riots started early on Saturday, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Accounts of the dispute vary, but two policemen faced a crowd of about 30 youths who were shouting insults. During the confrontation, the boy was shot in the chest and died, the Athens News Agency said.
According to the Monitor, the two policemen involved in the shooting have been arrested. ANA reported that Greece’s interior minister and deputy tried to resign in the wake of the riots, but Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis refused to accept the resignations.
Violence continued on Sunday as Karamanlis asked for calm, with clashes being reported in the city of Thessaloniki and the islands Corfu and Crete, the BBC said.
Those responsible for the clashes have been variously described as anarchists, youths, or leftist groups.
It’s common for police and anarchist groups to clash in the neighborhood where the boy was killed. Police also aren’t terribly popular in Greece.
The Monitor said, “Many Greeks cite the events of November 17, 1973—a day that is still commemorated, when the army stormed the Athens Polytechnic University and killed a number of striking students—as a reason why the police must be restricted.”
Police, by law, are no longer allowed on the Athens Polytechnic campus.
Brady Kiesling, who is working on a book about the terrorist group named November 17, told the Monitor there is an unspoken understanding between police and the groups: “The police stay out of certain areas, unless there’s a major emergency, and the anarchists don’t trash things badly unless there’s a good reason.”
That all changes if there’s a death, he added. “Once someone gets killed, the doctrine is massive retaliation.”
The weekend’s riots were the seventh such incident since the 1973 uprising, the BBC reported.
Other Americans living in Athens also addressed the riots. Paul and Catherine Wheatley are on a mission to encourage Christianity among college students in Greece. On their blog The Wheatleys, they said the violence wasn’t widespread.
“To reassure you of our safety, we can tell you that we were in downtown this afternoon taking Christmas pictures to send to you, and we had no idea any of this had happened until we got home and checked the news,” their blog said.
Their bus service was disrupted, and their normal bus stop was burnt down, though, they said.
On a blog “mayfly_78” the author, a half-Greek, half-British woman who lives in Athens, asked rhetorically whether the riots would change anything.
“No. Unfortunately it never does. Obviously the riots are part anger over the killing of the teenager, part frustration and anger against the police and the state in general. The state has a lot to answer for, but it never does. The riots will stop and everything will go back to normal, because the people in power never listen,” she said.
Kat wondered whether the police or protesters really thought about what they were doing.
“It is a senseless tragedy and my condolences go out to the boy’s family,” she wrote. “But more violence solves nothing and will not bring him back.”