Violent rioting sparked by the police shooting of a teenager continued in cities across Greece for a third consecutive day on 8 December 2008. In Athens, protesters clashed with police officers outside the Parliament building and hurled rocks at the Interior Ministry. Violence was also reported in Thessaloniki, where protesters broke store windows and attacked a police station, prompting police officers to fire tear gas to disperse them. There were also reports of clashes in the cities of Veria and Trikala. Additional protest actions are expected in Athens and other cities later on 8 December, and the potential for further violence is high.
The protests initially broke out in Athens on 6 December after police officers shot and killed a teenager at a protest taking place in the Exarchia district. Hundreds of protesters then gathered in Athens and destroyed dozens of shops in the city’s main commercial area on Ermou Street. On 7 December at least 1,000 students staged a violent demonstration during which participants used trashcans and vehicles to erect a barricade to prevent security forces from entering the Polytechnic University of Athens. In Thessaloniki, located 320 mi/515 km north of Athens, hundreds of youths also joined to protest the police shooting. A police precinct in the city center was attacked and several roads were blockaded. Youths hurled Molotov cocktails and set fire to various bank branches, stores and vehicles throughout Athens and Thessaloniki. Crete, Komotini and Ioannina were also affected by the rioting. Major traffic disruptions were reported.
Two police officers were arrested for shooting the teenager, and the shooting incident remains under investigation. At least 30 civilians and 37 police officers have sustained injuries since the unrest began. Meanwhile, protest actions have also been reported outside of Greece. A group of approximately 15 youths occupied the Greek consulate in Berlin on 8 December and anarchists staged a protest at the Greek Embassy in London.
ASI Comment: Due to the likelihood for continued violence, individuals traveling to Greece should exercise caution and avoid areas where protest actions are occurring. In Athens, the violence has remained limited to Ermou Street, in Monastiraki, Alexandras Avenue, in Exarchia and near the Polytechnic University. There are no indications that the protests have affected transportation between the city and Athens International Airport (LGAV/ATH).