Athens: Over 10,000 on Demo to Commemorate Alexis – Tear Gas and Police Brutality in Exarcheia (Greece)
Here is a short report from last weekend in Athens, where a lot of things happened. On one hand the ultimatum of the government ended, according to which all squatters should leave the buildings until December 5th, and on December 6th the anniversary of the death of Alexis, who was shot by a cop in Exarchia in 2008 at the age of 15.
So we started on Thursday, December 5th with a demo of about 3000 people, all in black, many masked, helmets, wooden clubs, gas masks, the usual program. The demo went a round through the northern city centre with very loud shouts, among other things “All Greece hates the police” or “war against war”, as a synonym for the fact that we are in a state of war, which now can only be answered with militancy. The demo passed the parliament, there were 63 Riot-Cops with gas masks standing around relatively bored, and it would have been easy for the demo to cause some trouble. But the demo remained peaceful, moved on to Exarcheia and simply dissolved there. Parallel to the demo, some people prepared a nice answer to the ultimatum: Instead of evacuating all buildings as demanded (in the greater Athens area alone that would be at least 46), 15 new buildings were symbolically occupied, one for each ultimatum day. Banners were placed and the situation of vacancy was pointed out, especially to migrants to use these buildings, with the support of the movement. Both the demonstration and the “house liberation” were kept silent by mainstream media, which is why the population barely noticed anything. (In the greater Athens area, by the way, countless buildings are currently empty!)
On Friday afternoon, mainly students gathered at the memorial demonstration to commemorate the death of Alexis, also about 3000 people and everything remained peaceful and also the cops clearly held back. It was unmistakable that bigger gatherings should not be escalated by the cops, presumably because the government is currently under strong pressure to succeed and cannot afford any bigger trouble.
On Friday evening the big Alexis Memorial ACAB Anarcho Demo took place with well over 10.000 participants, almost all in black or dark, many masked, helmets, sticks, gas masks, laser pointers etc.. This time there were also a lot of Demo-RyanJet-Tourists, e.g. from Berlin, obviously irritated from the different demonstration culture, one discussion was about why there is no “Lauti”(Sound truck, Enough 14) here. Well… Therefore there was the chant ”tourists fuck off, this is a war zone”. The Stadiou street from Omonia to Syntagma, 1km long and 20m wide, was almost completely filled and the people could have filled Syntagma square, which would have been a very media-effective picture. OK, Greek anarchists shit on the media, presumably that’s why the demo simply passed parliament for about 40 minutes, where about 300 cops had positioned themselves in readiness for battle. Why there was no great exchange of hostilities there remains a mystery to me, but obviously both sides had no interest in a confrontation at this point. Instead, we went on in the direction of Exarcheia, and a few people began to dismantle bus stops and billboards, throwing paint bags at banks, set fire to rubbish piles, so all in all nothing spectacular and quite aimless. Just before we reached Exarcheia, the demo then dissolved and several hundred moved on to the neighborhood, where they met the MAT cops (Riot cops) waiting there minutes later. Stones flew, very few molotov cocktails, MAT shot tear gas and there were about 20 brutal arrests including abuses, all uninvolved people, see videos below. Obviously the MATs had zero motivation to confront real fighters, too much stress and risk. The MAT was supported by 2 drones and a helicopter that permanently monitored the situation from the air, making it impossible to defend the neighbourhood from the rooftops, as it used to be the case, and the MATs always knew the position of fighters and small groups. After about 2 hours the spook was over. During the night at least 15 cars were set on fire in other parts of the city, windows were smashed and slogans sprayed.
Conclusion: Many people, peaceful demos, especially in comparison to previous years, a strange mood that seemed rather aimless and perhaps even apathetic to me. Maybe it was intended to be a well-intentioned ultimate warning to the government, but maybe it was simply an expression of lack of goals, organization or willingness to fight. Or a mix of everything. I’ve heard different opinions about it from comrades.
It should also be noted that in other Greek cities thousands of people took the streets, and in Patras and Thessaloniki there were also riots. A small notable incident occurred on Tuesday, when a police riot crashed in Exarcheia. The media reported an alleged breakdown, but there are serious doubts about it. The rumour mill says that activists have experimented with jammers. Anarchist air sovereignty over Exarcheia would surely be essential for future defense.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 at 8:50 pm and is filed under Autonomy.