Record of unprecedented damage and destruction in protests, riots in Greece, 12th February 2012 Part 1

Economy, riots and heritage II

Published on 23 February 2012

Author(s): samarkeolog

Type:  Blog Originally published 13 Feb

An amazing detailed account from someone who cares (CiD)

Media and crisis manager Stratos Safioleas (@stratosathens) judged last night’s destruction ‘unprecedented‘. Here, I have gathered together as many of the events as I could, listed in order of place: so far, Agrinio, Athens, Corfu, Herakleion, Patras, Thessaloniki, Trikala and Volos.

Moreover, I’ve grouped them by target as well: parliamentary/party/bureaucratic property; police property; banks; other commercial property; cultural venues; media organisations; personal private property; and other objects.

The destruction has been blamed on anarchist protesters, and on agents provocateurs; and I will try to probe this, and the destruction of cultural property, in detail in another post. But my analysis suggests that banks were the primary targets for destruction (even ahead of politicians’ offices). Still, there are many as-yet-undocumented incidents; there were at least 170 acts of destruction in Athens alone. I would be very grateful for any further information.

Update (16th February 2012): rioters ‘torched’ the entrance of the Numismatic Museum and smashed the windows of a Greek Resistance memorial. These are ugly acts of cultural violence; it is fortunate that the arsonists’ ignorance is only equalled by their incompetence.

Summary of riots’ targets

Athens’ Deputy Mayor, Andreas Varelas, believes that rioters targeted ‘emblematic' 'buildings‘. The cultural policy chief of right-wing coalition party New Democracy, Thanassis Davakis, claims that ‘[c]riminals targeted all that was best in the city of Athens, its neoclassical monuments’.

Of the 71 targets in my records, I believe the rioters damaged or destroyed:

  • 23 “general” commercial properties;
  • 22 banks;
  • 13 parliamentary/party/bureaucratic buildings;
  • at least 2 police stations;
  • 9 cultural venues;
  • 1 public service; and
  • 1 journalists’ office.

So, nearly a third of all targets were banks; more banks were targeted than government offices. (Technically, more “general” commercial properties were targeted than banks; but banks are one specific institution, whereas the “general” commercial properties encompass a variety.) The majority of targets were either banks, the politicians who support the banks, or the police who protect both the politicians and the banks.

Generally, Greek rioters did not target small businesses, and they did not loot desirable/saleable consumer goods. With much success (considering the floods of tear gas and outbursts of physical violence), they confronted the police; and they smashed the physical embodiments of the international banking industry and the Greek political classes, which threaten them and their families.


Parliamentary/party/bureaucratic property

In the small, western city of Agrinio, youths ‘smashed to pieces [?καναν γιαλι?-καρφι?]‘ the office of the Minister for Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, Thanos Moraitis.


ITV News’ Martin Geissler observed ‘[m]assive destruction‘ in Greece’s capital, Athens. Mercury News has a striking photo gallery of riots and fires. Apparently, ta Nea published an infographic map of destruction of the wounded city of Athens (Πληγωμ?νη π?λη η Αθ?να – Ο χ?ρτης της καταστροφ?ς); but curiously it did not put it online.

According to the police, in Athens, 170 banks, shops and cafes were wrecked (and (photo link) ATMs/cash machines, even bus stops), and 45 of those 170 were ‘totally burned down‘; but there are several other estimate, including from the police.(1)

Parliamentary/party/bureaucratic property

The offices of the Directorate for Restoration of Modern and Contemporary Monuments (on Ermou; η Διε?θυνση Αναστ?λωσης Νε?τερων και Σ?γχρονων Μνημε?ων), which is part of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (το Υπουργε?ο Πολιτισμο? και Τουρισμο?), suffered ‘minor damage [[μ]ικρ?ς ?κτασης ζημι?ς]’.

Update (17th February 2012): rioters stormed Kotzia town hall in order to burn it down; but riot police ‘rout[ed] [προσ?γουν]‘ them before they could. (I only mention this to challenge any rumours. It also shows that rioters tried to target political property, but were sometimes unable to destroy it.)

Police property

•Unknown persons attacked Acropolis police station with Molotov cocktails and stones.
•They did the same to Exarcheia police station.
(Also, (photo link) DIAS motorcycle police bikes were burned.)

(There were also reports of fires in the entrance to the Metro station at Syntagma; but they seem to have been defensive fires rather than destructive ones.)


  • A historic building, the Alfa Bank/Alpha Bank (at the junction of 16 Athinas and 17 Voreos), suffered ‘serious damage [σοβαρ?ς ζημι?ς]‘.
  • The Eurobank on the corner of Akadimias and Benaki was burned down.
  • The Eurobank on Korai Street was burned down.
  • The Marfin Bank on Athens Street was burned down.
  • Another historic building, the Bank of Cyprus on the junction of 13-15 Athinas and Kakourgiodikeiou, was burned out (see photo below); its roof collapsed.
  • The Hellenic Post Bank (Ταχυδρομικ? Ταμιευτ?ριο) on Athens Street was burned out; its roof collapsed.
  • Alfa Bank/Alpha Bank on Panepistimiou was burned out.
  • The Commercial Bank at the junction of Syggrou and Dionysiou Aeropagitou was burned out.
  • There was a fire at the (bank and) headquarters of the National Bank on Aiolou.
  • Update (18th February 2012): rioters cut through the metal shutters of the (previously-unidentified) Commercial Bank (Εμπορικ? Τρ?πεζα) at the junction of Ippokratous and Akadimias, smashed its door, and torched it (see photos below). (Hat tip, Thalis (@th4lis), who published a whole set of photos of attacked buildings.)
  • Attica Bank in Monastiraki Square was looted and burned (hat tip, Mr. P (@greenpickles36) for his first report).
  • Another one of the seriously damaged ‘historic buildings [ιστορικ? κτ?ρια]‘ was the five-floor building on the corner of Pesmatzoglou and 45 Panepistimiou, which used to house the Popular Bank (Laiki Bank).
  • Update (17th February 2012): the Alpha Bank (at 37 Panepistimiou and 10 Korai) suffered ‘serious damage [σοβαρ?ς ζημι?ς]‘. It is housed in a historic building, the General Accounting Office (το Μ?γαρο του Γενικο? Λογιστηρ?ου).
  • Update, 17th February 2012: a former branch of the Bank of Cyprus (a registered ‘landmark [διατηρητ?ο]‘ historic building), was seriously damaged.

In the 5th May 2010 riots, rioters petrol bombed Marfin Bank, and three workers burned to death inside. Last night, three, or fifteen, more workers narrowly escaped the same fate. They had taken refuge in the second basement of Alpha Bank; but firefighters rescued (‘extricated [απεγκλ?βισαν]‘).

They were truly, incredibly lucky:

  • The city centre was almost inaccessible for fire engines and ambulances because of improvised barricades, and the fire department made an appeal to the demonstrators to open the roads. Fire engines were attacked and two firefighters were wounded.
  • [Το κ?ντρο ?ταν σχεδ?ν απρ?σιτο για τα πυροσβεστικ? οχ?ματα και τα ασθενοφ?ρα λ?γω των αυτοσχ?διων οδοφραγμ?των, και η πυροσβεστικ? απη?θυνε ?κκληση στους διαδηλωτ?ς να ανο?ξουν τους δρ?μους. Πυροσβεστικ? οχ?ματα δ?χτηκαν επ?θεση και δ?ο πυροσβ?στες τραυματ?στηκαν.]

RegularGrrrl called bullshit on that narrative though: (Tweet)

Naturally, there were many more non-destructive actions, too. For example, the Central Bank was renamed in graffiti, ‘the Bank of Berlin‘.

Other commercial property

Shops were looted and burned.

  • Indeed, the (photo link) Atrium shopping centre at the junction of Xarilaou Trikoupi and Feidiou was reduced to a burned-out shell.
  • Protesters burned the electronic goods shop Germanos (on Benaki).
  • They burned the furniture shop Neoset on Benaki.
  • They burned the clothes shop Zara.
  • They burned the Starbucks cafe between Panepistimiou Street and Syntagma Square (photo via S. Cosgrove (@s_cosgrove)).
  • Update (15th February 2012): Sprider Stores’ central office (containing its clothes warehouse) was ‘damaged by fire‘.
  • Update (15th February 2012): Someone shattered the windows of Maria Aletras’s bead and ribbon shop near parliament.
  • There was also a fire at an unknown building on Euripidou.
  • Evidently, one of the unknown (photo link) looted buildings on Stadiou Street was Mark Aalen’s opticians.
  • And one of the other unknown (photo link) smashed/looted buildings elsewhere was Piacere.
  • More or less shockingly, an antique gun and sword boutique (on Omonoia Square) was also looted last night (as it was on 8th December 2008). (Hat tip, Dimitris Vorris (@dimitrivorris) for one of the confirmations of the looting of the weapon shop.) As Thalis (@th4lis) said, ‘[Επεισ?δια χωρ?ς να λεηλατηθε? το κλασσικ? μαγαζ? με τα ?πλα κ τα σπαθι? στην Ομ?νοια δεν νοο?νται]‘ (see photo below).
  • Kosta Boda (in the complex of historic buildings on Stadiou Street) caught fire when the neighbouring building, the Attikon cinema, did; and it suffered ‘extensive destruction [εκτεταμ?νη καταστροφ?]‘ (photo).
  • Similarly, the Asty cinema’s neighbouring cafe burned too. [The neighbouring cafe did burn, but it has already been counted; it was Starbucks.]
  • Update, 15th February 2012: a bookshop was attacked; Kaufmann’s foreign-language (English, French and German) bookshop on Stadiou Street was ‘burned out‘.
  • Update (17th February 2012): Anti-authoritarian groups (‘[ο]μ?δες αντιεξουσιαστ?ν‘) threw petrol bombs into the King George Hotel, but without causing damage ‘[νεαρο? π?ταξαν β?μβα μολ?τοφ και μ?σα στο ξενοδοχε?ο King George, χωρ?ς ?μως να προκληθο?ν ζημι?ς]‘.
  • Mobile phone shop Cosmote (on Panepistimiou) was ‘envelop[ed] [τυλ?γουν]‘ by flames.
  • A jewellery shop (on Themistokleous) was consumed by ‘flames [φλ?γες]‘.
  • Update (17th February 2012): The Janus (Ιαν?ς) bookshop (on Stadiou).
  • Update (18th January 2012): evidently, H&M (on Stadiou) was damaged.
  • Update (18th February 2012): Rioters smashed the windows of K. Verykios’s Stones jewellery shop (κοσμηματοπωλε?ο (photo link)), then looted it.

To continue immediately to Part II click here

Photos, videos and Tweets were not reproduced from the original Blog. Please go to the original source to see/watch and read them.

Back to previous page