Whereas a lot of the demonstrations have remained peaceable, the general public outcry has been punctuated with clashes between police and protesters. In Patras, Greece’s third-most populous metropolis, police fired tear fuel at crowds on March 8. The identical day, pictures and video from protests confirmed Athenians brandishing what’s change into a well-recognized image of dissent in that metropolis’s central sq.: the petrol bomb.
There are numerous causes the petrol bomb, or molotov cocktail, is a favourite amongst rioters. It’s low cost, straightforward to furnish, and sends a loud message. The system is well constructed with widespread home items, usually a glass bottle, or different container that shatters on affect, stuffed with a flammable substance and lit fuse, like a soaked rag.
Political protests of all ideological stripes have wielded the makeshift weapon in Greece. The nation has a tumultuous historical past of political violence, a lot of which got here to a head in a 1967 coup that resulted in seven years of army rule. After a few years of relative calm, the monetary disaster reignited Greek folks’s penchant for mass protest and the worldwide underdogs’ favourite incendiary system.
“Violence related to a brand new wave of political protest unfold within the late 2000s and the 2010s,” mentioned Lamprini Rori, an assistant professor on the Nationwide and Kapodistrian College of Athens who focuses on political violence.
“December 2008 was the catalyst for the eruption of riots and the resurgence of political violence triggered by the homicide of a 15-year-old scholar by a police officer,” Rori mentioned.
The petrol bomb is widespread the world over. Social media movies of Ukrainians making molotov cocktails have been considerable at the beginning of the battle. The bottled explosive can be profiled in Che Guevara’s well-known army handbook “La Guerra de Guerrillas.” And in 2020, throughout unrest in New York following the killing of George Floyd, protesters made headlines and have been finally charged for using improvised incendiary devices to break police property.
In Greece, Rori mentioned, it’s protesters on the far left who’re extra susceptible to utilizing the petrol bomb and equally violent strategies towards police and authorities property.
“It is sort of a ritual,” Rori mentioned. “It’s additionally a matter of know-how. The violent milieu is aware of tips on how to do it – but it surely’s additionally the simplest, in comparison with different acknowledged strategies similar to arson assaults, armed assaults or bombings.”
Rori, together with researchers Vasiliki Georgiadou and Costas Roumanias, performed a study revealed final yr that discovered that in Greece the far left is extra susceptible to political violence than the far proper.
Their analysis discovered that the far left was extra probably to make use of strategies just like the petrol bomb — a simple, transportable, extremely visible weapon good for city settings.
Nonetheless, whereas leftist violence was extra frequent and unpredictable, far-right violence stays extra harmful.
“Far-left perpetrators want materials targets,” Rori mentioned. “Far-right perpetrators want human ones.”