The Exarchia neighborhood in Athens turned into a battlefield on Tuesday evening as anarchist groups launched an attack against riot police monitoring the rallies commemorating the slaying of 16-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by a police bullet in 2008.
Groups of hooded men set barricades and hurled petrol bombs and rocks at police while setting trash containers and other objects on fire. Some used flare pistols and fireworks. Soon the Exarchia area was covered in smoke. Many assailants were throwing rocks and molotov cocktails from rooftops.
Hellenic Police had employed about 3,000 men to contain the scheduled riots, following what has become an annual tradition of burning and vandalizing in memory of the teenager.
It is characteristic that residents of the Exarchia neighborhood — a hangout for anarchists — found flyers in the windshields of their cars advising them to remove their vehicles on December 6 since it is a day of remembrance of Grigoropoulos and “the neighborhood is a target of a state military attack.”
Meanwhile, university and school groups gathered at noon in front of the Athens University administrative building to commemorate the slain teenager. A rally that started at 1 pm, ended peacefully at Syntagma Square, in front the Greek Parliament.
Two left-wing and anarchist rallies were also scheduled at 5 pm and 6 pm respectively at the same place. Similar protests were held in other cities around the country as well.
A memorial gathering also took place in the evening at Exarchia, at the spot where Grigoropoulos was fatally shot by police officer Epaminondas Korkoneas on December 6, 2008. The perpetrator was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2010.