Athens Prepares for 10th Anniversary of Teenager’s Death by Police

Athens, Greece – Tensions are high in the storied anarchist stronghold of Exarcheia, Athens as the ten-year anniversary of the police killing of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos –  December 6, 2018 – approaches. A student demonstration is set to take place on early Thursday afternoon as well as an evening demo, both starting near the University of Athens, about six blocks from the Greek Parliament. Heavy clashes are expected as a large presence of local and international anti-authoritarians will likely square off with a police force of a reported 5,000 officers.

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The 2008 police killing of Alexis Grigoropoulos sparked a massive revolt throughout Athens and cities across Greece. The revolt was the largest in Europe since 1968 and lasted for weeks as masses of anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and other leftists took to the streets demanding justice for Alexis, burning businesses and clashing with the police. Solidarity actions happened across the world in the immediate aftermath.

Alexis was in Exarcheia with friends on the night of December 6, 2008, when Epaminondas Korkoneas, a special guard member of the Greek Police, shot Alexis in the heart on Tzavella Street, killing him instantly. Korkoneas was found guilty of culpable homicide and was given a life sentence for Alexis’ murder in his first trial. Korkoneas’ parter, Vasilis Saraliotis, was found guilty as an accomplice and was handed a 10 year sentence.

Korkoneas has appealed the decision and will be tried by the courts again in the future. [UPDATE: Korkoneas was released from prison on Tuesday, July 30, 2019, after his life sentence was overturned.]

Alexis Grigoropoulos was 15 when killed by Greek policeman Epaminondas Korkoneas

The authorities provided several inconsistencies in their initial reports that were widely disseminated by the mainstream press. Authorities claimed that Alexis had thrown rocks at a police car, thus giving the police their excuse to shoot him. However, several witnesses say it was the police who initiated the assault. Police also claimed that Korkoneas shot two times in the air and once on the ground and that the bullet shot to the ground ricocheted and hit Alexis. This was found to be untrue as the medical examiner said that the bullet was a straight shot to the heart.

Furthermore, officers Korkoneas and Saraliotis disobeyed their superior’s order to return to their police center and chose to challenge the youth on foot after parking their car. They were both reprimanded for insubordination.

Alexis is said to have been “a well-behaved teenager who avoided violence and clashes with the police. He was not an anarchist according to his friends and family but a kid who was sensitive and grounded. His mother spoke of him as her ‘valuable diamond,’ her Alexi whose brilliance surpassed that of the brightest gem.

Flyers prompting people to be in the streets for December 6, 2018

Every year on December 6, Alexis is commemorated with a revolting spirit. Speaking to the locals in Exarcheia, it is clear that his murder changed thousands of people’s lives, most of whom were not comfortable elaborating on the topic.

It was the end of my innocence.” – Thanos, member of anarchist collective Rouvikonas (Rubicon), said about the murder of Alexis

On Wednesday, 19 suspects were released after being arrested for suspicion of firebombing police officers outside of State Minister Alekos Flambouraris residence. One police officer was injured.

Greek police in plain clothes have been tasked with tracking and following the movements of suspected members of anti-establishment groups.

This year, on the ten year anniversary, no one exactly knows what will happen but given the history of the Exarcheia district, the number of police deployed, and recent police attacks at the end of this year’s November 17 commemoration, street conflicts seem imminent.

See our special on the Greek government’s targeting of leftists: Greece: Political Prisoners Pt. 2 – Targeting of Anarchists & Autonomous Groups

Rough translation of writing on the cover image: “10 years is not enough – December in your worst nightmares – Son of a bitch you’re going to find us in front of you.

Continue to follow Unicorn Riot for further stories from Greece; including interviews with anarchists and anti-fascists, as well as specials from the struggle to stop gold mining in the skouries, the self-managed soap factory Viome, and independent media collective OmniaTV.

OmniaTV’s co-founder, Loukas Stamellos, spoke to Unicorn Riot on December 5, 2018
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