The legacy of a killing and Greece’s culture wars

Riot police officers stand next to a Christmas tree on Syntagma square, during an anniversary rally marking the 2008 police shooting of 15-year-old student Alexandros Grigoropoulos, in Athens, Wednesday. [Louiza Vradi/Reuters]

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the lethal shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police officer in Athens in December 2008. Over 9,000 people took to the streets across Greece to pay tribute to the killed teenager and protest instances of police brutality. 

The massive turnout proves that the shocking killing remains etched in the psyche of many Greeks, particularly the country's "millennials" who were of a similar age as Grigoropoulos when he was murdered. 

However, there is another legacy of that fateful December. Across Greece, a wave of rage and violence was unleashed, primarily by young people, with days of rioting in all major cities. There was anger at the police and there was anger at the government. The burning of the Athens municipal Christmas tree remains the defining image of those days.

The unprecedented violence in the days...

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