77-Year-Old's Suicide Fuels Greek Fury

Protesters clashed with riot police in Athens
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2012 6:04 AM CDT
Updated Apr 5, 2012 7:57 AM CDT
77-Year-Old's Suicide Fuels Greek Fury
A passerby reacts to the effect of tear gas during clashes between protesters and riot police in Athens, on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

The 77-year-old retiree who committed suicide in an Athens square teeming with commuters yesterday morning did indeed leave a note, in which the former pharmacist explained that he could not face a future that could involve "scavenging through garbage bins for food and becoming a burden to my child." But Dimitris Christoulas, in death, has emerged not as a burden, but as a rallying point. More than 1,500 people flocked to the spot where he shot himself, posting letters on a tree, holding a vigil, chanting—and tussling with riot police, reports the AP.

The BBC notes that as day turned to night, activists hurled rocks and gas bombs at police, who tossed tear gas and flash grenades back at them. Groups ranging from anti-austerity activists to schoolkids plan to gather again today in protest. And, according to the New York Times, that's in line with what Christoulas wanted. In the note, as reported by local media, he wrote that, "I believe that young people with no future will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country at Syntagma square, just like the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945." (More Athens stories.)

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