Xenophobia and violence against people of Roma origin is on the rise in Greece. Recent car chases and shootings by Greek police have killed one unarmed teenager and injured several others as a string of racist acts against Roma people have taken place across the country. In the first of a short series on anti-Roma racism in Greece, we feature the story of Nikos Sampanis and the rise in acts of hatred.
On October 22, 2021, news of a deadly stolen car chase was aired across the country. Broadcasters and news reports said three passengers were in the car. One died from police fire, one was injured and one escaped. The deadly incident occurred in Perama, a port-city and suburb of Athens about 30 minutes’ drive from the capitol’s center.
Reports state there was a chase of several kilometers and a possible shootout. Eight wounded policemen were allegedly forced to shoot, resulting in the death of the driver, who the reports state was a 20-year-old Greek Roma and known criminal.
All initial news reports we reviewed had reproduced the police’s statement about the incident in full.
Yet, videos taken by local residents started to appear that same night and showed a different reality. In a video taken near the incident, the sound of 36 repeated gunshots can be heard coming from police. Instead of an exchange of gunfire, it sounded like a one-way barrage. As more evidence came to light, it became clear that the original police narrative of events differed from what actually happened.