Anger over Nigerian's Death African Immigrants Clash with Police in Thessaloniki

African immigrants and leftist sympathizers have rioted in the Greek city of Thessaloniki after a Nigerian man fell to his death from a cafeteria balcony. Human rights activists claim he was being chased by plainclothes police officers.

An anti-racism protest in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki turned nasty Monday, with police firing tear gas at a stone-throwing crowd.

The trouble broke out during a demonstration by some 400 human rights activists and African immigrants outside a police station in the Thessaloniki suburb of Kalamaria. Suspected leftist sympathizers, some of whom concealed their identities with hoods and motorcycle helmets, threw sticks and stones at police officers. Three cars, a shopfront and two telephone booths were damaged but no arrests or injuries were reported.

The protest was sparked by the death of a Nigerian immigrant who fell from a balcony in a Kalamaria cafeteria in the early hours of Sunday morning. During Monday's demonstration, protestors carried photographs of the dead man, who has been identified by authorities as 27-year-old Tony Onouha according to the Greek English-language newspaper Kathimerini.

Police claim Onouha, a vendor of bootleg CDs, panicked after he mistook two men watching him for plainclothes officers. However human rights activists claim the two men were police who chased Onouha to his death.

Monday's demonstration followed protests on Sunday, when angry immigrants threw stones and chairs at police outside the cafeteria on Sunday, lightly injuring three officers.

Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis made a statement Monday expressing solidarity with the city’s Nigerian community. "The tragic death of the young man from Nigeria reminds us all of the difficult days we Greeks experienced a few decades ago when we emigrated to make a living,” Psomiadis said, quoted by Kathimerini. "It is the duty of the Greek state, whose development was influenced by emigration, to show sensitivity and attribute blame where necessary."



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