Anti-austerity protesters clash with police again

Police clashed with demonstrators for a second day on Thursday night at the site where an elderly man shot and killed himself in downtown Athens and left a note blaming the country’s harsh austerity measures for his suicide.

About 1,000 people gathered in the capital’s main Syntagma Square to leave flowers, candles and messages for the late retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas, and several dozen youths dressed in hoods and crash helmets smashed paving stones with hammers and threw the rubble at riot police.

The protesters chanted «Killers! Killers!» as police responded with tear gas and flash grenades during the clashes, which lasted about 20 minutes.

Christoulas, 77, shot himself in the head on Wednesday in Syntagma Square next to parliament — rekindling anti-austerity protests that have frequently turned violent over the past two years.

The suicide occurred during morning rush hour, and the tree under which he died was quickly covered with Greek flags and notes blaming government-imposed austerity for his death.

Neighbors and acquaintances said Christoulas was politically active, joining a string of anti-austerity protests at Syntagma Square last year, but did not appear to have debts or visible financial problems.

“He was quiet, a bit of an introvert. He lived alone and took the tube,» said neighbor Irene Economou. «He had put up a banner on his balcony with the sign ‘I won’t pay,’» referring to an anti-austerity movement that has called for free use of toll-roads and public transport. «I had heard he was very political.» [AP]