2008 Greek riots – A Pictorial
Protesters clash with riot police during a demonstration in central Athens on December 12, 2008. (OLIVIER LABAN-MATTEI/AFP/Getty Images)

On the night of Saturday, December 6th, two Special Guards of the Greek police clashed with a small group of young men. The exact details of what took place are still unclear, but it is known that one of the Guards fired three shots, and one of those bullets caused the death of 15-year-old Alexander Grigoropoulos – whether the injury was made by an accidental ricochet or deliberate shot remains to be determined. The two Guards are now in jail awaiting trial, the shooter charged with homicide.

2008 Greek riots – A Pictorial
This undated photo made at a unknown location shows 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. Some of the worst riots Greece has seen in years began within hours of the fatal shooting of Alexandros Grigoropoulos on Saturday night in the central Athens district of Exarchia. (AP Photo/Eurokinissi)
2008 Greek riots – A Pictorial
Protesters, unseen, aim a green laser pointer at riot policemen during clashes between protesters and riot police in Athens, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
2008 Greek riots – A Pictorial
Young students offer flowers to riot police while others blocked off Syntagma (Parliament) Square on December 13, 2008, following more than a week of clashes over the police killing of a 15-year-old. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

This incident sparked an immediate and widespread response in the form of angry demonstrations and riots in many Greek cities that have continued at varying levels to this day – though dimming in intensity recently. Alexander’s death appears to have been a catalyst, unleashing widespread Greek anger towards many issues – police mistreatment of protesters, unwelcome education reforms, economic stagnation, government corruption and more.
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