Masked youths hurled firebombs and chunks of marble at police during a march in Athens Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the police shooting of a teenager whose death sparked massive riots.
Police fired volleys of tear gas to disperse the youths in running street battles in the centre of the capital as several thousand demonstrators commemorated the death of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The teenager’s death sent youths rampaging through cities for two weeks last December.
On Sunday, the rioters smashed bank windows, overturned trash bins and set them alight as they hurled rocks and fire crackers at riot police. Authorities said 134 people were detained for public-order offences in Athens and another 80 in the northern city of Thessaloniki, where a similar demonstration also degenerated into violence.
At least five protesters were injured in the clashes, including a woman who was hit by a police motorcycle. Police said 16 officers were hurt.
Police on motorcycles chased rioters amid scenes of chaos at Athens’ main Syntagma Square, with youths punching and kicking officers pushed off their bikes. One policeman who lost control of his motorbike struck a pedestrian woman, who was injured and later transported to the hospital in an ambulance.
At Athens University, masked protesters broke into the building and pulled down a Greek flag, replacing it with a black-and-red anarchist banner.
The dean of Athens University was injured when the youths broke into the building, and was hospitalized in an intensive care unit, authorities said.
As night fell, about 200 masked demonstrators were holed up in the neoclassical university building, smashing marble chunks off the university steps and ripping up paving stones from the courtyard to use as missiles against the police.
A soccer match at Athens Olympic stadium between local clubs Panathinaikos and Atromitos was suspended for 30 minutes because of tear gas used by police against rioters outside the ground.
In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, youths threw gasoline bombs at police, set fire to several cars and smashed 10 storefronts, including a Starbucks cafe.
More than 6,000 police had been deployed across Athens in an effort to prevent violence.
The new Socialist government, which came to power in October and has been confronted with a surge in armed attacks by far-left and anarchist groups after last year’s shooting, and had vowed a zero-tolerance approach to violence at Sunday’s commemorations.
spotted by RS