Teenage rioters went on a rampage in Thessaloniki and Athens last night, and the violence has resumed today. The trouble was sparked by the fatal shooting by police of a 15-year-old (16 in some versions) in Athens. The “youths” doing the rioting appear to be leftists and anarchists — that is, Antifa-types, and not immigrants or Muslims.
According to the International Herald Tribune:
Militant youths mounted new attacks against the Greek police on Sunday, marring at least two marches by demonstrators angered over the killing of a teenager in a police shooting and destroying scores of shops, cars and businesses across the country.
The violence rattled Athens and Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, where youths hurled gasoline bombs, rocks and clubs at the police, sending hundreds of bystanders and peaceful protesters scrambling.
In Athens, riot police officers retaliated, firing several rounds of tear gas that cloaked the Greek capital in acrid gray smoke.
At least one apartment block was evacuated after masked youths set fire to a car dealership on the lower level and the ensuing flames licked up to residents’ balconies, the private television station Alpha reported.
Stylianos Volirakos, a spokesman for the Athens police department, said “dozens” of officers had been hurt in their efforts to seal off streets around the Polytechnic Institute, where rioters erected makeshift barricades with burning trash bins.
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About 3,000 peaceful protesters managed to peel away from the Sunday riots, rallying outside the National Museum near the area where the 15-year-old was shot.
The riots started late Saturday after a small group of youths attacked a police car in central Athens. They escalated into a spree of violence that ripped through the country.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said a senior police official who requested anonymity. “The tension is so thick you can almost cut it with a knife.”
The circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting remained unclear.
A police statement issued early Sunday said the shooting had taken place when two officers in a patrol car were targeted by about 30 youths — many of them throwing stones — while driving through the central district of Exarchia.
The police officers left their car to confront the stone throwers, “firing three shots that resulted in the death of the minor,” the statement said.
Some Greek news media and a Web site popular among leftist youths, www.indymedia.org, said the teenager had been shot in the chest and died on his way to a hospital.
The police said that Exarchia, a bohemian haunt favored by intellectuals and artists, has long troubled Greece’s security apparatus because it sometimes draws large crowds of youths, including anarchists and extremists, who object to any police presence.
And here’s the part of this news story that troubles me:
Both officers involved in the shooting Saturday have been suspended, the police department said, and senior officials vowed “exemplary punishment” for anyone found to have done anything wrong.
“It is inconceivable for there not to be punishment when a person, let alone a minor, loses their life,” Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said at a news conference Sunday. “The loss of life is something that is inconceivable in a democracy.”
There’s nothing objectionable about punishing an officer who uses force inappropriately or causes unnecessary death. That’s as it should be.
This is the alarming sentence: “The loss of life is something that is inconceivable in a democracy.”
When the absolute safety of everyone at all times is guaranteed, and loss of life is “inconceivable”, then a society becomes vulnerable to extortion by thugs for whom life is worthless. Remember the exultant battle cry of the mujahideen: “You love life, but we love death!”
The lovers of death have the upper hand when they encounter those for whom the loss of life is inconceivable. The tendency for the fainthearted is to bargain away everything else in order to save one’s own skin.
It looks like things are getting pretty nasty in Athens:
Hundreds of militant youths stormed into the streets of Athens within hours of the shooting, hurling firebombs, rocks and slabs of concrete at police officers who retaliated with tear gas.
Private television networks broke into scheduled programming, broadcasting violent images of the worst street fighting in recent years.
Youths were seen smashing storefronts, targeting banks, and setting fire to dozens of garbage containers and cars along the meandering streets of the main commercial district.
Similar protests rattled Thessaloniki and a string of other Greek cities, including Chania on the island of Crete.
Additional news stories about the riots: