WORLDPOST
01/12/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Greece Riots: All You Need To Know (VIDEO)

Greece has been rocked by riots and protests for the past seven days. They have caused the worst destruction in 25 years sparked by a controversial shooting of 15-year-old boy, Alexis Grigoropoulos, by a police officer on Saturday night.

Update:

Euronews reports that the riots continued for a seventh day, and have caused hundreds of millions of euros worth of damage.

Athens has seen its seventh day of rioting. Despite a night of relative calm across Greece, fresh violence broke out after a peaceful demonstration turned nasty. Students and security forces clashed outside the parliament building in the capital. Firebombs and stones were thrown at police who responded with teargas.

Protests spread to other cities in Europe, briefly blocking the Champs-Elysees Friday, reports the AP.

PARIS -- Demonstrators rallying in support of protesters in Greece scuffled with police and spilled onto the Champs-Elysees Friday, partly blocking the capital's most famous avenue.

The protest started peacefully outside the Greek Embassy in Paris, where about 300 demonstrators from student groups, unions and left-wing parties gathered to show solidarity with the Greek youths, who have been rioting for seven days to express deep discontent with the government and poor economic prospects.

Police were caught off-guard as the protesters shifted speedily down sidestreets from the embassy to emerge onto the Champs-Elysees, thick with Friday night traffic and bright with Christmas lights.

Roughly 100 protesters moved in a group down the avenue, some ripping out streetlights as they moved along. About 10 protesters blocked a police car driving up the avenue and smashed its windows with stones.

"Police, pigs, everywhere!" they shouted.

The Prime Minister made a statement while meeting with European leaders in Belgium. He called for an end to the violence and said he would not step down.

Asked whether he still considered the government's mandate to be strong, in light of its slim majority and the recent events, the Greek premier underlined that he did not intend to step down or call early elections.

The country has a strong government and its strength is not measured by the number of MPs but by the reforms that it carries out," he said, adding that Greece was now up against a great economic crisis that demanded consistency, a responsible policy and "a firm hand at the helm."

The Guardian reports Thursday that clashes continued for the sixth day but workers returned to their jobs after the strike. And the government tried to carry on its business.

[Costas] Karamanlis and the opposition leader, George Papandreou, have appealed for an end to the violence, which hit at least 10 Greek cities and damaged hundreds of millions of euros in property.

The government - clinging on to power by a single seat in the 300-member House - appeared to have weathered the immediate storm, but its hands-off response to the rioting has damaged its already low popularity ratings, analysts said.

"The most likely scenario now is that Karamanlis will call elections in two or three months' time," Georges Prevelakis, a professor of geo-politics at Sorbonne University in Paris, told Reuters.

The AP reports that Greek authorities will hold two policemen accused of killing the teenager in jail pending their trail.

One officer has been charged with murder for allegedly shooting dead 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in a confrontation Saturday in Athens. The other has been charged as an accomplice to murder. No trial date has been set.

Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports on the Greek union strike Wednesday amid the violent riots:

The violence continued despite the efforts of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in particular to build bridges with the opposition parties in the hope of discouraging people from continuing with their protests.

Karamanlis met separately with the leader of each of the parliamentary parties, who in turn emerged from the talks to assert that the government could not cope with the crisis and that their respective parties are offering a way out.

"The only thing that this government can now offer is its resignation," PASOK leader George Papandreou told his deputies after the meeting, as he called for elections to be held.

Alexis Papachelas writes a commentary for Kathimerini describing his despair over the whole situation in Greece and explains why the violence has gone this far:

The fatal shooting of the teenager in Exarchia and the destruction that followed struck a vein of rage and has created a wave of senselessness that has choked all reason. Teenagers are taking to the streets because they are disillusioned with the legacy they have inherited and know how hard it will be to maintain their standard of living in the future. They are also getting the message that right now, anything goes.

The middle class despairs because it feels the government is totally incompetent and fears what lies ahead in terms of the economy. Policemen cast their eyes to the ground because they feel lost and don't know exactly what their job is or how to do it. The government has lost the plot, living in its own ivory tower and looking for conspiracies, or squads of well-rested riot police. The opposition has failed to grasp the gravity of the situation and does not realize that if it ever does get elected, candles and words won't cut it because the people, and especially the young, have run out of patience.

Global voices reports that a citizen journalist was beaten by the police after taking photos and video of the events. Here is his description:

I suffered a dislocated shoulder, fractured nose and multiple cuts and bruising for taking these photos of the Greek riot police during a peaceful demonstration on September 8th, 2007, Thessaloniki, Greece.

I was detained, placed in an unmarked van by the four plain clothes cops and taken to the central police station. Later I was released without charge, but in excruciating pain and covered in blood.

The New York Times describes the severity of the crisis:

While clashes between the police and students have been common in Greece for decades, the ferocity of the reaction to the boy's death took the nation -- and its government -- by surprise. Outrage over the death was widespread, fueled by what experts say is a growing frustration with unemployment and corruption in one of the European Union's consistently underperforming economies, worsened by global recession.

But it was expressed in violence in the streets by student anarchists, who had been quiet for several years but seemed revived by the crisis. Mr. Karamanlis, hanging on to power in Parliament by only one vote, has seemed frozen, his government, once popular but now scandal-ridden, increasingly under pressure.

AP reports on the 10,000 person strike in Athens:

Protesters attacked Athens' main courthouse with firebombs during a hearing for police officers whose shooting of a teenager set off rioting that appeared to be tapering off Wednesday even as a general strike paralyzed the country.

The police involved in the fatal shooting were testifying behind closed doors when youths hurled Molotov cocktails at the courthouse and smashed a television satellite truck. Riot police fired tear gas. At least two people were hurt.

Riot police and youths also clashed in the city center during a demonstration by more than 10,000 people to protest the conservative government's economic policies. But outbreaks of fighting were smaller and less widespread than in previous days, an indication that the most violent nationwide unrest Greeks have seen in years may be ending.

Here's a video from Reuters of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis discussing the riots:


Read more stories on the riots in Greece.