It is incomprehensible and beyond any sense of logic to commemorate all dramatic events with untrammeled violence. The tenth anniversary of the killing by a police officer of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a tragic and heinous act, has for the last 10 years been marked not with protests to honour his memory, but with catastrophic forays in the centre of Athens and other cities.
Using the commemoration as a pretext, marginal groups and troublemakers express their rage by burning and destroying. They are not moved either by the plea of Alexandros’ mother that her son’s memory not be used as vehicle to advance their objectives or by the denunciation of their acts by overwhelming majority of society.
Such expressions of lawlessness, violence, and hatred with every real and imagined pretext, has bedeviled the country for years. It is not the consequence of the economic crisis, as one might expect. It is a way of thinking that is deeply rooted in certain segments of society and which was exploited by those who see fit to destroy.
They have transformed the historic neighbourhood of Exarchia, which was a vibrant area and a place of ideological discussions for the younger generation, into a place that most cannot enter. There, violence is an inextricable part of daily life, even as the state looks on without acting.
What has developed is a noteworthy “movement” which is fueled by supposedly revolutionary actions – occupation of buildings and Molotov cocktails are frequent, and whoever reacts is the target of the next attacks.
Obviously there are outbursts of unchecked violence in other countries as well, as in France right now. But there they are exceptions and not the rule. Here we have become accustomed with every protest to expect the transformation of central Athens into a battle ground.
It is the duty of the state and political parties and civil society to check such phenomena. It is neither simple nor easy, as a culture of tolerance has developed over many years.
Nevertheless, it is impermissible for the centre of the capital, universities, schools and football fields to be turned into hotbeds of violence with no one being disturbed.