Shots ring out as Athens riots continue

It's been confirmed than police have been shooting at students in Palaio Faliro, a southern suburb of Athens, a writer in the city reports, amid claims that both police and right-wing groups have been on the attack.

Submitted by Rob Ray on December 9, 2008

As rioting continues in the streets,with hundreds of people clashing with police outside the Greek parliament and more being held off while they try to surge in from outside the area, an on-the-ground writer gives his impressions of the evening:

"Daytime in Athens was relatively calm. High school students attacked, once again, the riot police units outside the parliament on Syntagma Square. Eksarhia, through which we walked during the day, resembled a battlefield in limbo: burnt cars blocking off its main streets; Stournari Ave(running alongside university grounds) is completely smashed up, barricades constantly burning across it.

"Most groups have retreated in the universities (NTUA and the University of Economics). Assemblies were held there during the day, to plan out the next few days. However – a group of up to 400 people is still in the southern suburb of Palaio Faliro, where Alexis’ funeral* was held this morning. They are quite literally rioting their way into the city centre. There, it is assumed that they will try to join either the occupations of the NTUA or the University of Economics.

"The breaking news is that the police have shot at least ten times at demonstrators in Palaio Faliro. Meanwhile, at the University of Economics, while at least four units of the riot police are encircling the campus and trying to push the demonstrators inside.

"A beautiful slogan is echoing across the city: “ο λαός θα πεί την τελευταία λέξη/ αυτές οι νύχτες είναι του αλέξη” - “the people will have the last word/ these are Alexis’ nights”."

Another commentator on the libcom forums meanwhile suggests that rioting which happened near the funeral procession may have been provoked by police. He said: "Today the state decided to forcibly start repressing the mobilisations, violent or not. They crashed the peaceful demos of the students in Athens. They threw tear gas into the graveyard during the funeral process -- a riot started immediately, with all sorts of people joining in.

"Whole blocks remain without public lights (scary!) so that the police can act freely, undercover cops in swarms, 'bait' operations etc. More policemen faced with rioters have responded by firing (real firearms, not plastic bullets) into the air for intimidation.

"The police are attacking everywhere. In the city of Patras they were joined by right wing people - not only neo-nazis but 'normal' right wing people, acting in gangs using stones and sticks. All the university occupations are holding.

"The prime minister has declared that: "In these critical times, there's a clear challenge: we have to shield the democracy against the extremist groups' violence. Right now, national unity is our common duty... All those who engage in violent acts and vandalism are enemies of democracy."

"Tonight there have been riots in various areas of Athens and other cities. In Athens anarchists, students and many immigrants from africa, the middle east and the balkans have been fighting together. Perhaps fewer are involved than yesterday, but they are more determined. The immigrants in particular fight fiercely. Looting is very widespread and some 50 immigrants have been snatched by the police. As expected, all sorts of semi-illegal activities have broken out in the 'anomy' zones, like in the history books."

The government has vowed to crack down on the rioters. But with the general strike tomorrow against government austerity programmes and attacks on pensions and tens of thousands of angry workers on the streets aggressive police action could lead to serious repercussions for the state.


Quotes from and the libcom forums

* Alexis Grigoropoulos, the 15-year-old whose death at police hands sparked the riots. His funeral drew some 3,000 mourners. A coroner's report has shown he was shot in the chest, and two policemen have been arrested.