The tragic murder of a 22-year-old Black man in Greece who had recently graduated from college last summer has called attention to the country’s pervasive racism. Bakari Henderson traveled to Zakinthos where he was beaten to death following a bar fight in July 2017 because of the color of his skin, said.
“I hate to assume but it felt like it started as anti-American and then escalated into a hate crime because he was African-American,” his grief-stricken mother, Jill Henderson, told USA Today.
Nearly one full year since Henderson’s July 7 killing, his family was still awaiting justice. Eight attackers were slated to stand trial on Sept. 21, with their names having been kept secret due to European privacy laws — a move that ultimately protects the attackers.
Racist violence in Greece has been on the rise recently, with more than 100 incidents recorded in last year, up from 95 in 2016, the Athens-based Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) reported in March.
Henderson, who at the time had just graduated from the University of Arizona, was killed in Laganas, a town known for Serbian and British tourists. After taking a selfie with a waitress, a Greek man approached the woman asking why she was “talking to a Black guy” with “so many Serbs in the bar,” according to the indictment. Henderson, who reportedly spoke up for the waitress, was hit by the man before he was fatally assaulted by a group led by the unnamed patron outside the venue.
Race will be an obvious motive considered in the first-degree murder trial, which Henderson’s family plans to attend in the southern Greek city of Patras.
“There are already hints of strong anti-Americanism sentiment among the Serbians involved,” Andreas Patsis, a Greek lawyer representing Henderson’s family, said. “Despite how there was no provocation, the Serbs attacked Bakari and focused only on him, who was an African-American.”
The unnamed defendants were facing the maximum sentence of life in prison. Henderson’s family, which created a foundation to honor him and help families facing similar circumstances, will hopefully get justice in a legal system that not too long ago acquitted Greek farmers for shooting brown-skinned Bangladeshi workers asking for months back pay they were rightfully owed.