ATHENS – As it has since the 2008 shooting death of a 15-year-old student by off-duty police in the anarchist neighborhood of Exarchia, violence flared again as riot police battled protesters in the streets, hours before the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when some 2500 officers were being deployed.
The trouble broke out the night of Dec. 6, nine years after the killing of Alexis Grigoropoulos set off two weeks of firestorm protests through the country’s capital and flared out of control.
Rioting youths hurled Molotov Cocktails, set up street barricades and damaged storefronts in Greece’s two largest cities, including Thessaloniki, as the confrontations went on for hours in the streets.
Authorities said at least 22 people were detained for questioning in the Greek capital, where a pair of rallies drew several thousand participants. Some youths proceeded to hurl stones, flares and fire bombs at police officers and set a parked car ablaze, police said.
The unruly rowdy demonstrators also blocked streets with burning trash bins and material taken from construction sites.
Similar scenes unfolded in Thessaloniki, where protesters threw rocks at police from the top of apartment buildings. locks.
About 2,000 police were deployed in Athens as the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, which has hard core elements supporting the protests, authorized a show of force the party had deplored while out of office.
The protesters were marking the killing of Grigoropoulos by a police officer shot the boy while he was out with friends in Exarchia.
The policeman who fired the fatal shot said he didn’t intend to shoot Grigoropoulos. He was convicted of deliberate manslaughter and is serving a life sentence.
The teenager’s death sparked riots across Greece that lasted for weeks. Athens was the hit the worst, with many stores, buildings, and vehicles in the capital smashed and burned.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)