"We chose this monument to democracy, this global monument, to proclaim our resistance to state violence and demand rights in education and work. (We did it) to send a message globally and to all Europe." — Protestor to Reuters reporter on December 17th, 2008.
Protesters stood atop the Acropolis. Huge banners draped the stone wall in front of the Parthenon. One proclaimed in four languages: RESIST! Another requested solidarity demonstrations throughout Europe. That was on day 12 of the 15 days of insurrection in which the citizens of the ancient birthplace of both democracy and anarchism sent the government and people everywhere a message. The catalyst of these events was the death of an anarchist teenager at the hands of the police.
On December 6th, 15 year old Alexis (Alexandros) Grigoropoulos was enjoying the evening celebrating a friend's birthday outside a shop in Eksarhia, Athens. The neighborhood of Eksarhia is one where shop owners and residents are known for their love of freedom and self-regulation and their disdain for the often brutal hand of police authority. It is an area where the police presence is minimal and suspect. Alexis met his friends to eat and talk as teenagers do, but somehow this evening of comraderie ended with Alexis shot dead by an officer a Greek policeman. Accounts of the officers and witnesses vary on the circumstances of the shooting.
According to news reports, two special guard policemen exchanged insults with a small group of young people outside of a shop. The officers contacted their superiors and were apparently told to leave. The two guards left the scene, but returned on foot. The officers say they were attacked by an angry, violent mob. Epaminondas Korkoneas, the 37 year old policeman who killed Alexis, claims the crowd assaulted him and his partner with rocks, and other items including molotov cocktails. He testified that he fired warning shots into the air while his back was turned to the crowd in fear. He claims that one of the bullets must have ricocheted, killing the boy. His partner, at some point, threw a concussion grenade at the crowd. Discrepancies in information available regarding the ballistics and forensics reports makes it unclear whether the bullet was a direct hit or a ricochet. Both officers were arrested in connection with the shooting. Korkoneas was charged with murder, while his partner was charged as an accomplice.