Riots Marked the 7th Anniversary of Alexandros Grigoropoulos' Death in Athens Last Night
Since December 2008, annual demonstrations are held in Greece to commemorate the teen's killing and protest police violence. Ironically, the protests often culminate in clashes between demonstrators and police.
This article was originally published on VICE Greece
Thirteen people were arrested (six of them underage) on Sunday evening in Athens, as a result of extensive and violent clashes between demonstrators and the police, on the seventh anniversary of the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos.
Back in 2008, 15-year-old Grigoropoulos was killed by a police officer, Epaminondas Korkoneas, in the neighbourhood of Exarcheia. The murder sparked a series of protests and riots, largely led by students of Grigoropoulos' age.
Since December 2008, annual demonstrations are organised by many different leftist groups, students, and particularly anarchists, to commemorate the teen's killing and protest police violence. Ironically, the protests often culminate in clashes between demonstrators and police.
This year, a crowd of mostly students and leftists groups started gathering at the centre of Athens (Propylea) at 12PM. The police were fully prepared for unrest – the number of officers in the city streets exceeded 5,000 while two central metro stations remained closed for security reasons. Around 3PM, people started marching. It was mostly peaceful, though a few rocks were thrown at a police cordon guarding the National Library.
By around 6PM, the Propylea was filled with members of anarchist and anti-authoritarian groups who gathered for their own march. The demonstrators' faces were now covered with gas masks and an uneasy silence hung in the air.
As soon as the march hit the intersection of Panepistimiou and Voukourestiou Streets, petrol bombs were launched from the demonstrators towards the riot police, who answered with teargas and flashbangs.
By the time the heavy chemical smoke cleared, the demonstrators had regrouped and continued on their way until they were forced to draw a halt at the intersection of Panepistimiou and Benaki Streets due to a road block. It was at that point that it became evident the police had cut off all escape routes, effectively surrounding the main body of the demo. Tension begun building up again and further clashes took place, until the police moved further into the area of Exarcheia, where clashes continued to the early hours.
Meanwhile, a little further away from Exarcheia, in the area surrounding Omonia square, 20-25 police on motorcycles surrounded a group of ten people who were mostly photographers and journalists. They were asked for identification and those that could not provide the necessary documents were arrested and led to police headquarters.
At the end of the day, flowers and notes covered the monument that's been erected in Grigoropoulos' memory at the exact place he was shot in Exarcheia. Further marches in his memory were held in most cities around Greece on Sunday, with only small scale clashes reported.