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Greek youths hang protest banners from Acropolis

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Kara Sundstrom
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« on: December 17, 2008, 10:57:58 pm »

Greek youths hang protest banners from Acropolis
12/17/2008 | 10:57 PM

ATHENS, Greece Protesters hung two giant banners off the Acropolis on Wednesday, with slogans calling for mass demonstrations across Europe and "resistance," after days of violent protests sparked by the fatal police shooting of a teenager in Athens.

About a dozen protesters held the pink banners over the walls of the ancient citadel, Greece's most famous monument, one bearing the word "Resistance" written in large black letters in four languages: Greek, English, Italian and German. The other called for mass demonstrations across Europe on Thursday.

The banners were taken down after two hours.

"There can be no justification for this action. This hurts the image of our country abroad ... it is unacceptable," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said.

Student demonstrations are already planned in Athens and Greece's second largest city of Thessaloniki on Thursday to protest the Dec. 6 police killing of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

The riots that followed the teenager's death are the worst Greece has seen in decades, feeding off widespread dissatisfaction with the unpopular conservative government and anger over social inequality and economic hardship.

Hundreds of shops and banks were smashed, torched or looted as gangs of masked and hooded youths rampaged through cities night after night, setting up burning barricades in the streets and clashing with riot police who fired large amounts of tear gas. Retailers say the damage will cost them 1.5 billion ($2 billion) in lost income.

More than 300 people were detained or arrested in the rioting.

Although the rioting has abated, small-scale attacks continue.

Police said about a dozen youths on motorcycles set fire to a police bus in central Athens. The driver managed to escape the fire and no one was hurt.

Also Wednesday, about 40 protesters occupied the offices of the Greece's largest labor union, the GSEE.

"I believe they have chosen the wrong target ... The GSEE does not govern this country. So it's wrong to undermine the labor unions," GSEE leader Yiannis Panagopoulos said.

About 100 high school students gathered outside the capital's main court complex, pelting riot police guarding the building with stones, eggs, rocks and yogurt to demand that those detained in the riots be freed.

In Greece's second largest city of Thessaloniki, police said a bank and a local citizens advice office were firebombed before dawn Wednesday in attacks that caused damage but no injuries.

After a week of violence, many protesters have begun using different tactics to make themselves heard.

On Tuesday, a group of youths stormed their way into Greece's state television and radio studios, forcing broadcasters to put out anti-government messages.

Ten young protesters disrupted a state NET television news broadcast of the prime minister's speech, appearing live on national television carrying banners that read: "Stop watching, get out onto the streets" and "Free everyone who has been arrested."

In Thessaloniki, protesters broke into three local radio stations, agreeing to leave only when a protest message was read on the air.

Greece's opposition Socialists have accused Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' conservative government of mishandling the crisis and worsening the effects of the global economic downturn. The Socialists are calling for Karamanlis to resign and call new elections, a demand he has rebuffed.

Parliament starts debate Wednesday on Greece's 2009 budget, which includes at least 4 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in new taxes. - AP
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