ATHENS, Greece – Hundreds of youths angered by the fatal police shooting of a teenager rampaged through Greece’s two largest cities for a second day Sunday in some of the worst rioting the country has seen in years.
Gangs smashed stores, torched cars and erected burning barricades in the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki. Riot police clashed with groups of mostly self-styled anarchists throwing Molotov cocktails, rocks and bottles. Clouds of tear gas hung in the air, sending passers-by scurrying for cover.
Rioting in several cities, including Hania in Crete and cities in northern Greece, began within hours of the death Saturday night of a 15-year-old shot by police in Exarchia. The downtown Athens district of bars, music clubs and restaurants is seen as the anarchists’ home base.
Soon stores, banks and cars were ablaze.
The two officers involved in Saturday’s shooting have been arrested and charged, one with premeditated manslaughter and the illegal use of a weapon, and the other as an accomplice.
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, whose offer to resign was rejected Sunday, has promised a thorough investigation.
“It is inconceivable for there not to be punishment when a person loses their life, particularly when it is a child,” he said. “The taking of life is something that is not excusable in a democracy.”
Violence broke out again Sunday afternoon in Athens and Thessaloniki during demonstrations to protest the shooting. “Cops, pigs, murderers,” protesters chanted.
Police said 24 policemen were injured in Athens in overnight riots that started Saturday, and another 13 on Sunday, while seven people were arrested and another 15 were detained.
As night fell, groups of youths, some masked and others wearing motorcycle helmets, set trash cans alight and overturned cars to erect burning barricades on streets around the Athens Polytechnic – which, like all universities, is protected by law from police intrusion. Some could be seen walking on the roof of the Polytechnic, taunting police.