Greece remembers the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos

police kettle outside the University

A day of demonstrations and clashes with the police marked the five anniversary of the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos and the December Revolt.

Thousands of people took part in demonstrations to remember the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos on 6th December 2008. The murder sparked the December revolt and the fifth anniversary brought people to the streets across Greece once more.

In Athens thousands of high school and university students held a demonstration in the early afternoon which was surrounded by riot police throughout the march. As the demonstration ended the police attacked, physically and with tear gas, and kettled between 100-200 people outside Athens university. After around an hour the police released most of those kettled and detained others. This is perhaps the first use of kettling in Greece and until recently the police would not even have been allowed on university grounds due to a now dissolved asylum law. Around 26 people were detained.

Another demonstration of between 10-15,000 took place on the same streets in central Athens later in the evening. The march passed peacefully until people headed to the Exarchia district, where Alexis was murdered five years ago. Hundreds gathered in the central square of the neighbourhood with more in the surrounding streets. Not long after the police began an attack on the central square and people responded with stones and molotovs. Clashes continued as groups of people were broken up and then reformed throughout the evening. On many streets people set up barricades to face the constant attacks.

A call had been made for people to gather at the spot of the murder at nine but those who regrouped there were again attacked with people taking shelter in shops and apartment buildings. Groups of motorcycle police(Dias) circled the neighbourhood chasing down and arresting people as they dispersed. Reports state that over a hundred people were detained during the day in Athens alone with marches and arrests in cities across Greece. The atmosphere of the night was one of heavy repression as the neighbourhood was surrounded with hundreds of police and the air thick with tear gas. This is the second large scale police attack on Exarchia in less than a month as November 17th protesters faced a similar assault.

The size and energy of these demonstrations shows that five years after December 2008 the same anger and rage still burns within Greek society. The heavy police repression on the day indicates that the state knows this very well. Incidentally recent days have seen the start of the trial against several anarchists charged with robbing a bank in Northern Greece earlier this year. Amongst those on trail is Nikos Romanos a friend of Alexis Grigoropoulos who was present at the murder five years ago.

Video of the clashes around Exarchia Sq