Situation in Menidi got out of control on Saturday afternoon, when a group of people wearing hoods threw molotov cocktail bombs in houses belonging to the Roma community of the area. The hoodies got mingled in a peaceful demonstration launched by locals, after a stray bullet in a nearby school killed an 11-year-old boy.
The hoodies got reportedly angry when they saw camera crews filming. They pushed away reporters and injured a camera man of state ERT TV with an iron bar.
Star TV said that its 3-men crew was attacked and injured by those wearing hoods.
Tension has been high in Menidi suburb of Western Athens after the tragic incident on Thursday evening. Residents demand from police and authorities to crack down criminality in the area, speak of drug trafficking and massive possession of weapons and firearms.
Angry residents threatened to take the law in their hands, and report of other incidents in the past where children were injured by stray bullets.
At the protest on Saturday, they were holding banners reading “Enough is enough” and “Tomorrow Who?”
Estimated 1,500 people participated in the protest.
“We are not racists, we are not against the Roma but we are against criminality and breaking the law,” a resident told ERT TV.
Police suspected that the stray bullet came from a rifle during some celebration in the Roma settlement. Apparently a common phenomenon in the area: to fire int the air during celebrations.
On Saturday morning, strong police forces raided several Roma houses in the settlement which is located next to the city of Menidi. Police confiscated weapons and drugs, detained more than 30 people, arrested 3 for drugs and 5 to 6 for illegal weapons possession.
Among the arrested is a 23-year-old Roma man who has reportedly confessed that he fired in the air on Thursday evening. His home is near the school where the tragedy happened.
According to media, there was a feast in this home on Thursday, Roma families were celebrating that two female family members arrested for heroine and cocaine trafficking were not taken in custody.
Police did not find any gun or rifle in the house, but several cartridges fro a 9mm caliber gun and a rifle in the house yard.The arrested 23-year-old Roma is to appear before the judge on Tuesday, ERT reported.
These houses raided by police became the target of the Molotov cocktail bombs.
The boy, 11-year-old Marios, was buried on Saturday morning.
Minister for Public Order Nikos Toskas said that the “problem [of criminality] in the area cannot be solved with police operation.”
Unions and local associations call for a silent protest next Tuesday demanding better living conditions for the low-income residents of the west Athens suburbs.
PS The Greek state has never dealt seriously with the Roma communities in the country, the absence of integration policies has been going on for ages.