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Greece Grapples With Protests, Anger Over Teen’s Death

A strike over economic policies in Greece shut down banks, schools, hospitals and flights Wednesday, but did nothing to end the unrest over the shooting death of a teenager on Saturday. Former Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns delves into the country's troubles.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, the riots in Greece. We begin with a report from Robert Moore of Independent Television News in Athens.

  • ROBERT MOORE:

    It had been intended as a peaceful day of protest to coincide with a nationwide strike. So much for that idea.

    Within minutes, the rally by Greek workers was hijacked by anarchists and so began a fifth day of rioting.

    The police again chose to contain but not to confront. Whether handing over the streets to the anarchists is weakness or wisdom is a point of major debate.

    Even on the fringes of the violence, passions are high. Arguments are breaking out on street corners. You only have to watch and listen to realize this is not just a security problem, but a full-scale political crisis for the Greek state.

    And tonight, around Athens University, the heartland of student radicals, rioting has flared up again.

    Anarchy in Athens, of course, is nothing new, but what has shaken people is the destructive fury. And it's being driven, as we find out by talking to people, by a hatred of the state and of police in particular.

  • GREEK CITIZEN:

    I participated to this just because I don't like police, because the behavior of the police against me in the past and actually for no reason was awful.

  • GREEK CITIZEN:

    We are here for — for the cops, nothing else.

  • ROBERT MOORE:

    But there are other grievances, too. There's anger at political corruption and at economic prospects. In both Athens and Patras, there is still no sign the protest will end anytime soon.

    But in a remarkable sign of an emerging backlash, in some places, shopkeepers and other middle-class Greeks have entered the power vacuum, here hurling stones back at the anarchists.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to Margaret Warner.