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Vol. 72/No. 50      December 22, 2008

Greece: cop killing of
student sparks protests
ATHENS, Greece—Three thousand high school students marched here December 9 to protest the killing of a 15-year-old high school student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, who was gunned down by a policeman three days earlier.

A separate demonstration of similar size by the teachers’ unions took place the same day. All the teachers’ unions called for a 24-hour strike to protest the killing. College professors also called for a three-day strike. Five thousand students, many with their parents, attended the funeral that afternoon, turning it into a protest.

Petros Kiperopoulos, of the Coordinating Committee of Struggle of High School Students, told the rally, “This was an act of cold-blooded murder. We must understand that it is a continuation of years of state repression against students, youth, and immigrant workers. Instead of better schools and more democratic schools they offer us more repression.”

Referring to vandalism that has occurred in the last few days of protests, Kiperopoulos said, “We condemn the violence and destruction of stores taking place. That is why we call for students to take to the streets but to take to the streets in well-organized demonstrations with defense guards.”

Demonstrations took place in several cities. In Alexandroupoli, some 500 college and high school students took to the streets, said Georgos Misailides in a phone interview. The city’s college was occupied by students protesting the killing.

“The protests have to do not just with the murder of Alexandros,” said Misailides, member of the coordinating committee of the college occupation, “but due to the accumulation of anger against the government’s antilabor policies and several other cases of police brutality.”

Grigoropoulos was out with some friends in the Exarhia area, a popular spot for young people. After an exchange of words with a police patrol, the cops parked their car, walked out, and opened fire, killing Grigoropoulos, according to eyewitnesses and a video taken from a balcony.

Within hours 1,000 youth protested in central Athens as word was passed on through text messages. The next day 3,000 people, including high school students and their parents, were prevented from marching to the central police headquarters by a hail of police tear gas canisters. The cops used vandalism by some as a pretext to block the march.

Some 8,000 marched through central Athens December 8 in two separate marches. High school students walked out of school and marched to police stations in cities from Thessaloniki to Patra and from Chania to Kavala.

On the same day more than 1,000 high school students from Grigoropoulos’s school and other schools marched on parliament demanding justice. Strikes took place in a number of high schools throughout the city.

The cop that shot Grigoropoulos has been charged with murder and the illegal use of weapons. The second cop has been charged as an accomplice. Court-appointed attorneys have refused to defend the two.

Attempting to defuse the rage against police brutality, Greek prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis called for “national unity” and pressed the two labor federations, the General Confederation of Labor (GSEE) and the Confederation of Civil Servants (ADEDY), to call off their general national strike planned for December 10.

The leaderships of the two federations said the strike will take place as planned and called on working people to participate in a rally “against the antilabor policies of the government and against the terrorist violence of the police.”

GSEE held a march and rally December 10 of about 15,000 in Athens.  
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