ATHENS, GREECE, December 9 — For three consecutive days, police and protesters have clashed nationwide following a Special Forces cop’s fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos on December 6 in this city’s central district. The cops claimed Alexandros and other youths were throwing rocks at police cars. But the youth were just shouting anti-police slogans.
The arrest of two cops for this murder has not calmed the masses’ anger. Hundreds of students battled police in Thessaloniki, while protests also turned violent in Trikala, the port of Piraeus, and on the island of Corfu. Major mass marches were planned for today.
The rebellion and mass anger against this police murder reflect the hatred of many workers and youth for the cops. During the “colonels’ dictatorship” of 1967-74, cops were particularly brutal against those opposing the military junta. And in recent years under the right-wing government, police brutality has intensified. The cops have especially brutalized immigrant workers, particularly in Athens’ police stations. The national government has been trying to divert the anger of workers and youth by attacking immigrant workers and refugees here.
The protests are not just the actions of a “few hothead vandals” as right-wing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on national television. After the killing, students have occupied a majority of schools nationwide. The High School Teachers’ Union has already called a 3-day strike and the Primary School teachers were set to walk out tomorrow.
Meanwhile, in Germany a dozen demonstrators occupied the Greek consulate in Berlin, replacing the Greek flag with a banner proclaiming Greece “a murderer state.”
There have been recent mass strikes opposing the government plan attacking pensions and job security, under orders from the European Union to cut the budget deficit. The government also gave billions in bailouts to local banks growing out of the current worldwide financial meltdown.
While workers were being attacked, a scandal erupted involving a land swap between an Orthodox monastery and government officials in Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’ New Democracy Party. A land scandal had further tarnished the government’s political standing. Even recent wildfires have been linked to speculators who want to build hotels in protected forest land.
The opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) and the reformist “Communist” Party, both with lots of influence in the union movement, are using the rebellions — the biggest since World War II here — to push for an electoral defeat of the right-wing New Democracy government, but without changing the capitalist essence of Greek society.
Amid the growing capitalist economic crisis and sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry leading to wider wars, reformist electoral politics won’t extricate workers and youth from the hole into which capitalism has driven us. The lesson from these rebellions and strikes is to fight for a revolutionary communist leadership, capable of uniting workers Europe-wide and globally, to transform society into a world without any bosses, police terror or economic crises in which workers pay for the bankers’ bailouts.