ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Groups of youths smashed paving stones and hurled them at riot police during a demonstration Wednesday to mark the ninth anniversary of the fatal police shooting of a teenager in Athens that sparked the worst rioting Greece had seen in decades.
Dozens of youths, their faces covered with scarves and masks, ripped metal road signs from the street, smashed traffic lights and bus stops and set garbage dumpsters on fire. Some threw flares at riot police, who mainly kept a low profile and did not respond, apart from one instance where they made limited use of tear gas.
The tension came during a demonstration by high school students through the center of the capital. Another protest by mainly anarchist groups was planned for the evening.
About 2,000 police were deployed in Athens for the commemorations of the 2008 death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos, shot by police while out for an evening with friends in Exarchia, a central Athens neighborhood popular with anarchists.
The policeman who fired the fatal shot had said he didn't intend to shoot the boy. He was convicted of deliberate manslaughter and is serving a life sentence.
Grigoropoulos' death sparked extensive riots across Greece that lasted for weeks. Athens was the most affected, with many stores, buildings and vehicles in the capital smashed and burned. Riot police fought nightly pitched battles with protesters, firing volleys of tear gas to repel youths throwing gasoline bombs, rocks and broken chunks of paving stones.