This afternoon, Saturday August 13th, three people handing out handbills at the popular weekly outdoor market in Kallidromou, in Athens, were surrounded by the DELTA motorcycle squad, detained and brought to the police station for questioning.
The cops claim the three looked like suspects wanted in a robbery, but of course this is nonsense. Since an army of cops took over Exarcheia Square on August 8, Exarcheia has been under a full military-style police occupation, and the three were targeted because of their handbills.
This kind of "suspicion" of another crime is a common pretext to harass and intimidate suspected anarchists. People are rounded up, brought to the police station, put in a cell, their ID taken, questioned and maybe held "until the victim of the robbery can come make an identification." The supposed victim of the supposed robbery never shows; it's just political bullying.
As a small gesture of solidarity with these three and all others who are fighting the current and extreme police occupation of Exarcheia, I have translated the flyer they were handing out into English.
I would note that point 5, "We show solidarity/open doors to protesters," includes the most literal meaning. When there is active repression, it's common for sympathetic locals to offer protesters shelter in their homes or businesses.
Why speak when you can be silent? and yet, since the sexy videos of the riots that took place in Exarcheia on Saturday, June 25 have gained a lot of views, the English-speaking audience might benefit from some context. What follows is my account of that night, from the perspective of a neighborhood resident, anarchist, etc.
To viscerally understand the sequence of events, your best bet is to watch this excellent video, the description of which includes a text about that night's anti-gentrification demo:
You could also enjoy this catchy dance remix!
Sūnzǐ Bīngfǎ #38: Kriegstagebuch aus der Ukraine [Part 2], Das Attentat auf Pinochet, Erinnerungen an Wounded Knee, Impressionen aus dem Mai 68, “…dass Leben im Imperialismus nur im Widerstand möglich ist" und noch einiges mehr auf https://t.co/NoMhXzsIjqpic.twitter.com/7xhzdAG3hx
Exarcheia, the historically anarchist neighborhood of Athens, is being gentrified by the usual means: "Art" murals signed with instagram handles, property speculation, skyrocketing rents, the hollowing-out of residential buildings by AirBnB and, of course, increased policing.
Now, in the narrow alley of Messolonghi, on the very same block where police killed Alexis Grigoropoulos, profiteers are trying to turn a long-empty shell of a building into luxury apartments. But Exarcheia is not yet pacified, not yet a place where people respond to such outrages merely by grumbling on Facebook.
So how does one prevent gentrification? By fucking preventing it! This is a translation of a post on Athens Indymedia by residents of Exarcheia. One wonders in the coming days, weeks and months how many other problems this disgusting luxury apartment complex project will encounter.
"This morning, a bulldozer was tearing up the pedestrian street of Messolonghi for the electrification of a luxury apartment building. The work was prevented and a little later the cops came hunting."
This morning, a bulldozer was tearing up the pedestrian street of Messolonghi for the electrification of a luxury apartment building. Someone from the neighborhood approached the workers and asked them what they were doing. The contractor said it was ΔΕΗ [Greek electric utility] construction to provide electricity to the building intended for luxury apartments. When he was asked for his legal permits, he refused while also denying the construction was related to the building, even while the construction workers were entering and leaving it.
The residents managed to stop the works and the contractor left, but Messolonghi street remains in ruins. 15 minutes later six ACTION and DELTA [special hunter-killer police branch] units arrived at the scene looking for the residents.
Exarcheia is a neighborhood under threat of gentrification. Residents are being evicted, squats are getting shut down, rents are rising. This building in Messolonghi, intended for the luxurious residence of the rich and tourists, is another example of capital. Every day we see the neighborhood changing and transforming into a playground for big investors. At the same time, Exarcheia Square and Strefi Hill are under constant threat.
The pedestrian street of Messolonghi has always been a symbol of uprising and resistance, a public space of socialization and politicization that is still used daily by many people. The creation of this building will wipe out the character of the street and the neighborhood. At the same time, the police are becoming more and more suffocating, with the uniformed sheriffs bullying and arresting whomever they see before them. It is our collective responsibility to blockade the plans of the state and capital.
We call on everyone to be vigilant …
NOT IN EXARCHEIA OR ANYWHERE, GENTRIFIERS OUT OF EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD
FIRST COPS, THEN CONTRACTORS, COMPANIES AND OTHER NONSENSE
editorial note: in a world where most things feel meaningless, it's impossible to overstate the profound emotion when hearing the imprisoned women chanting back at us: "OUR DESIRE FOR FREEDOM IS STRONGER THAN ANY CELL." Experiencing in this way the strength and passion of the imprisoned comrades, how can we not feel driven to fight harder?
On New Year's Eve, after a call for solidarity by prisoners, fugitives and persecuted activists, about 200 comrades gathered outside the Korydallos prison to welcome the new year, joining our voices with those of the prisoners. For about an hour we stayed outside the prisons with flyers, slogans, road flares and fireworks, closing down Grigoriou Lambraki Street for a while where we exchanged chants for a long time with the prisoners of the women's prison of Korydallos.
Immediately after the end of the rally, a total of six comrades were arrested, four of whom were taken to the Korydallos Police Station and two to the Piraeus Police Station. The two apprehensions in Piraeus turned into arrests for fireworks and disobedience, with the comrades now waiting to be tried and released. Of the four in Korydallos, one turned into an arrest for possession and disobedience, now having been tried and released, while the other three companions were released the same night.
GET YOUR HANDS OFF OUR COMPANIONS
— Assembly of Solidarity to the imprisoned, fugitives and persecuted militants
The 28th of October is a national holiday in Greece, so even less gets done than usual. It's "Οχι Day," and Οχι is a truly sublime word and concept: it means "No."
The origin of this holiday is the Greek strongman dictator Metaxis Just Saying No to the Italian strongman dictator Mussolini's demand to annex Greece in 1940. Alas, Mussolini wouldn't take no for an answer and attacked Greece, which is how Greece became involved in World War II.
Greece held off the Italian fascists for six months until the arguably more ferocious and good-at-war German fascists got involved, at which point Greece fell and was occupied by the Italians, the Germans and the Bulgarians.
Last night I was exposed to an alternative theory, advanced over beers, which is that the heroic length of time Greece held out before capitulating to the axis was not due its martial prowess but because Greek bureaucracy took several months to process the surrender paperwork.
There's a big boulevard near me named "October 28th St." and in general Oxi Day is greeted with an orgy of blue-and-white national pride. Here is a cute cartoon about it:
The little cherub with the greek flag says "Let's go to the parade, to celebrate the No!"
and our guy (agender) on the right replies "No."
The arguably unnecessary caption reads "Anarchy on Oct. 28"
i really like the black flag with "οχι" on it. every day is No day!
The attack can be seen in this video that was attached to the claim of responsibility:
The text overlaid on the video says:
Solidarity with the 14 comrades
Against mandatory DNA acquisition
The phrase "executive state" in the opening line refers to a recent reorganization of government power structure, summarized here by the ruling party's newspaper. It can be broadly characterized as Americanization, shifting authority to a strong executive.
There is a lot of turmoil that cannot be fit into a left-right schema. It is a people who are discovering their capacity to be more than a mere mass of support for a retrograde and cynical oligarchy which uses the words "revolution" and "anti-imperialism" to legitimize an ordinary despotism hardly different from any other tyranny. They are a people tired of "revolutionary" and "socialist" inequalities and privileges.
Cuba, in addition to being a museum of the global left, is a society with a state, police, repressors, privileged & marginalized peoples and a bureaucratic military oligarchy as greedy as any other. The fact we've had an enlightened and humanistic despot does not excuse him, nor his lasting heirs, from their despotism. A significant portion of the people say they've had enough. The American blockade must be lifted, the monopoly of the Castro oligarchy must end. It will be complicated & surely "impossible", but that's the most honest perspective I'm seeing.
Our companion Leonardo Romero is currently missing; he is an enemy of the Cuban state for having publicly written on a sign "Socialism yes, repression no!" His disappearance is the true face of this government.
Caption for image: "Anyone who hinders the steady forward march of this brother is the enemy."
I recently attended an anarchist-feminist demonstration that made a strong impression on me. You can read more about the action and the event that provoked it here.
While it would have been bad form to take photos of the many stickers and graffiti I saw, I did collect some of the flyers that were being scattered in the air and (in the case of the following) tucked under the windshield wipers of cars and into mailboxes.
This flyer, signed Φεμινιστα Σγντροφα (Feminist Comrades) was an explanatory message to the fairly complacent middle-class neighborhood in which the demo occurred, and I have translated it from Greek.