Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Thessaloniki riot: 'War zone here'

Thessaloniki, picture by Dimitrios Paraskevas
Riot police quickly moved in on rioters in Thessaloniki

Days of rioting in towns across Greece has left dozens injured and hundreds of properties torched.

In Thessaloniki, Dimitrios Paraskevas describes how one of the demonstrations sparked by the death of a 15-year-old boy turned violent.

It began peacefully and it was a huge demonstration. But it turned violent and a small minority went pillaging stores and breaking into public property.

People chanted: 'Cops, pigs, murderers.'

The demonstration tried to move to the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace but because the police were heavily protecting that area, the rest of the city was left to the mercy of the looters.

Some people within the demonstration tried to prevent people from breaking in and pillaging shops but it was eventually too difficult.

Late on the rioters reached the Kamara area and then it became a warzone here. You could see fires everywhere, rubbish bins were burning, people were throwing molotov cocktail bombs.

Photo: Jerry Goldstein

The police responded with tear gas. I saw police shooting canisters all over the place, but it affected more ordinary demonstrators than rioters.

Then it started to become more violent and it continued until the early hours of the morning.

People operated with a mob mentality. They chanted: 'Cops, pigs, murderers.'

Today a scheduled demonstration is to begin at 12pm local time for the memory of Alexis, the boy who was shot. He is going to be buried today and I will be there to commemorate this. I will go in peace but most of the people are worried that it will turn violent.

Most people wanted this to be something that could change the sentiment of the state and the police. They wanted something good to be done. The rioting does not help.

The whole relationship between the police and society should be re-evaluated - this is what it is all about. People don't think the state belongs to them. They see it as an enemy.

Here in Thessaloniki, we are in a worse economic situation than Athens, unemployment here is higher, we have lost our base of production.

There is anger but ordinary people don't want to express it through violence.

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