Lavreotiki, Attica: One year after the invasion of the State and the Capital in Keratea

Keratea, December 11th, 2011: ‘We resist the unlawfulness and violence of the army occupying our land’

Ovriokastro, Keratea
Total time under occupation by police squads (MAT):
128 days & 9 hours (December 11th, 2010, 4am – April 18th, 2011, 12pm)
Total of 37 youths detained by the cops

Notes on the resistance in Keratea
original by kerateaartres1stance

Shortly before
That cold night of December 11th, 2010, was the last one when Keratea slept peaceful, as well as free. Outside it was snowing, and the thermometer showed minus. In a few hours it would dawn on Saturday, and most people didn’t have to go to work. The only ones definitely not asleep those hours were in a wooden post on the hill of Ovriokastro, just a few kilometers outside the city. They were charged with a single task: to notify the entire community of Keratea in case of emergency; a single specific risk that was now just around the corner and approached.

The first hours
Watch indicators showed 4.30am when all the churches’ bells began to ring. Shortly thereafter, the sirens of war started to sound. At the same time, municipality vehicles with loudspeakers passed through each neighborhood, calling people out on the streets. Inside every dark house a light opened. The residents of Keratea were not caught napping. They didn’t even ask one time for whom the bell tolls. They all knew which way to run to and what the emergency was. After all, they had been waiting it for years. About a quarter later, the same sms had been delivered to all mobile phones of the citizens: ‘The police squads (MAT) came in Ovriokastro. Compatriots, we must now all head to Ovriokastro to save our city. The landfill shall not pass.’ The first blood in Lavrion Avenue will not be long to shed. From the first hours, street battles erupt between residents and police forces, that (re)inaugurate the ‘Aura,’ the armored vehicle with water cannon. Several residents, including elderly, are seriously injured.

First days
Instantly, barricades are being built, Lavrion Avenue is closed, as well as the high school (gymnasium and lyceum) of Keratea after the students’ unanimous decision to abstain from classes. On the other side, more than 800 policemen are scattered in Ovriokastro, Lavrion Avenue, fields and rural roads blocking the residents’ access to their crops and farms. And the battles against police squads continue daily. From the very beginning hundreds of residents of adjacent municipalities resist at Keratea’s barricades, including the mayors and the clergy. Many residents from nearby Lavrion also blockade part of Lavrion Avenue by building their own barricades in solidarity.

First week
Everywhere in Keratea black flags and banners writing ‘Keratea is at war’ are posted. Ovriokastro radio 102.00 FM starts to emit –the pirate radio station of the struggle. Its equipment was purchased two years ago with a fund-raiser that was organized by the Coordinating Committee of the Struggle Against the Landfill. The first words broadcast said: ‘Residents of Keratea, the city of Keratea and the entire region of Lavreotiki are at war.’ The municipality calls an emergency press conference on the theme ‘Keratea at war.’

Inside the city, enterprises and all kinds of professionals put aside their personal gain, and send whatever they can offer to the barricades. The pizza shops send pizzas, the bakeries sweets, the pharmacies medicines while doctors provide their services for free, and so on. Others bring chairs, umbrellas, alcohol drinks, coffee and tea. Since the first moments, stocks of firewood are sent to the barricades. These are essentials during the bitter cold –during the first nights, the temperature drops up to minus five degrees Celsius. Nighttime clashes continue for many hours on a daily basis, and it appears that several residents ask the blessing of priests before they go to the street battles. Soon, the first arrests are made; the defendants, including minors, are referred to proceedings for a series of felonies. Whenever the detainees are brought before a prosecutor, dozens of Keratea’s residents support them with their immediate presence at Evelpidon courts, in Athens. The police forces, always accompanied by the water cannon, make extensive use of many different types of tear gas and in some cases the cops fire plastic bullets. On Athens’ walls the first slogans read: ‘Keratea–Keratades [Cuckolds] 1-0.’* At the city’s blockades, the living conditions slowly start to improve. Electric power is installed, plastic kiosks are built nearby, a drugstore is provided and several street benches are set on the highway, while residents bring more chairs, large umbrellas for rain, tables, sound systems and chemical toilets.

* The satirical, football-fan-like slogan ‘Keratea vs. Keratades 1-0’ is a play of words which refers to the place, Keratea, and the State’s assholes, where the meaning of ‘keratades’ [plural] is ‘cuckolds.’

First month – Christmas & New Year
Residents have hanged Christmas balls and ornaments on many trees across Lavrion Avenue. Fund-raisers and a raffle are held whose proceeds go to the continuance of the struggle, while on Christmas cards by the municipality of Keratea is written: ‘No landfill in Ovriokastro.’ Residents and choruses of the city are chanting carols to police squads. All are prepared for a militant New Year’s Eve and New Year at the barricades. The university candidates who succeeded in the Pan-Hellenic examinations are officially awarded out on the blockaded streets. The first big protest concert is held with the presence of dozens of well-known artists and thousands of people. Also, dozens of residents make symbolic blockages of roads leading to ‘Eleftherios Venizelos’ Athens international airport with banners in English. Shortly before New Year a decision by the County Court of Lavrion justifies the residents of Keratea, temporarily prohibiting the contractor’s company to undertake any landfill work. Also, according to the court’s judgment, the residents ‘have a direct legal interest to be allowed to visit their properties.’ Although this specific decision is notified to the chief officer of the police squads, the State’s repressive forces continue to prevent the residents from reaching their assets.

Keratea Art Resistance Festival, April 8th–10th, 2011

Just a few days after New Year, the street battles continue unabated. Once again, residents are repelled hundreds of yards from the barricades. When they return they see their private cars broken with no signs, as well as parking tickets issued by Keratea’s traffic police. Tension is carried through the city, with hundreds of people attacking both the local police station and the traffic police department. Molotov cocktails are thrown even inside these buildings while several official vehicles are turned over. Epiphany, on January 6th, is celebrated at the barricades. A few days later, the ‘Aparto Kastro’ (Impregnable Castle) is built by the region’s builders; it’s the inhabitants’ large shanty made of sheet metal and wood where assemblies, discussions and musical evenings are held. Meanwhile, heads of the Hellenic Ministry of Interior go to Brussels to inform the EU that the works in Keratea already have begun in an effort not to lose the 16 million’s funding for the Regional Planning’s completion. But a day earlier a delegation of the municipality met with the competent committees of the EU in order to prove to them that the landfill works had not begun. Finally, the movement against tolls joins its forces with people of Keratea, and they jointly lift toll bars in highways refusing to pay toll fees.

February & ‘Black Tuesday’
Black Tuesday, February 8th. The police squads invade the very city of Keratea, which turns into Fireland. This combative response was triggered by the raids carried out by policemen in houses where they detained relatives of ‘suspicious’ residents. According to the residents, police raids were carried out without the presence of a prosecutor; in one of the houses in which the cops entered by force, an elderly woman suffered a heart attack from shock and had to be transferred to hospital. Once again, hundreds of residents gather outside the police station, and riots begin. There is excessive use of chemicals; police squads are firing tear gas even at homes’ balconies, while those who come out to protest about the elderly citizens and children that are unable to breathe, get beaten. Several arrests are made, in every street bonfires burn and riots continue until dawn. The local authority declares a state of emergency in the municipality by closing schools, stores and public services. After the Black Tuesday, doctors in Keratea notice an increase of skin rashes in numerous small children. In those days a pregnant woman has a miscarriage, and several people in Keratea consider the lost baby as the first person who died in the struggle; the fetus is sent for toxicological tests to determine whether the death was caused by police chemicals. The Black Tuesday’s incidents draw the attention of tens of foreign mass media to Keratea. Also, the official organ of the Zapatistas in Europe expresses its support to the residents who resist, while solidarity gatherings are held in Athens, Thessaloniki, Veria and Heraklion on Crete. The municipality and the coordinating committees against the landfill collect petition signatures and formally denounce, both to the UNESCO and the Council of Europe, the Greek government’s attempt to destroy the archaeological site of Ovriokastro. Residents from the Lavrion blockades climb up to the ancient temple of Poseidon in Sounion, where they unfold a huge banner reading in English: ‘We stand against the construction of the waste landfill at the archaeological site of Ovriokastro’. The first commando operations begin on the same day: small groups launch surprise attacks, torching vehicles of the Hellenic Police, and then disappear. In the long strike rally in Athens on February 23rd, the block of Keratea is warmly applauded by other demonstrators, who chant the words: ‘You will win.’

The Lavrion district court vindicates the residents again, rejecting the application for suspension of execution that was filed by the Greek State. Meanwhile, residents begin boycotts and protest demos outside branches of Eurobank, since this bank acquired a 40% stake in the contractor company’s share capital for the landfill project. At the same time, the commando raids continue, and all the diggers and bulldozers of the contractor on Ovriokastro are burnt down. A few weeks later, even police buses are set on fire. Clean Monday (the first day of the Great Lent) is celebrated at the barricades, and Exarchia express once again their support with a friendly football match between Asteras (‘Star’) Exarchia and Keravnos (‘Thunder’) Keratea. Markopoulo, Saronikos, Koropi and Paiania municipalities hold a joint protest gathering for Keratea while the residents are putting pressure on the city council for a solution. The Council of State postpones the hearing of Keratea’s appeals for May 4th, but one clear written decision since 2007, negating the residents’ claims, is presented by the government and several corporate media as a defeat of the municipality. Thessaloniki embraces Keratea at its documentary film festival, while in Kalyvia residents throw yogurts on Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos because they consider him the mastermind of the situation they have been experiencing for so long. After more than 100 days of resistance, a group of Greek people who live in Brussels raises a banner inside the European Parliament, shouting out loud, ‘2,500 year after and 20km from Marathon’s battlefield, the modern Greeks are waging a battle today. This is the inhabitants’ of the village of Keratea that they fight some modern barbarians. These modern barbarians, they are not from Asia. They are from Greece.’

Keratea, April 4th, 2011: The long military parade (video footage shot by residents, with humoristic playback of a TV commentator during nationalist parade)

WASTE POLICY —from Greek urban experience

we shake up rubber condoms of existence
from inside of public rag picking’s litter bins

we dig private living, no way to accept in storerooms piles of rubbish
we save pure wool licentious dusty monsters and some precious coins

architecture of subterfuges
we pick up cut chop lids of injections’ nightmare sheep

out of prewar items we make a horrors’ cheese

we drive out garbage trucks to basements
no place at home for filthy bins

pills and beer bottles no refund, trapped cats which lose their fun
if it’s not worthwhile, how can we be scaremongers

we must find a parking space, we’ve become luxurious butters
moving around cities of eczematic cages

nothing else causes us an itch
we have a landfill for everyone who looks skin deep

the stellar hunters do not waste a scoop, they’re all for sale and substitute

we must hire a cleaning lady, call a dog catcher, a pest control pro
we say this for too long

people’s rag-and-bone collecting continues unabated
stateless aliens, let’s move those barges full of dirt further away

recycling or recyclement, rectum, we now loose the baggies
through and through piles of rubbish shoo! maniacs rats
gnats fly over strewn deposits

hey hop! one canarypox-colored toilet basin
we cause on little foot a night creak

we spread liquid bleach over pedestrian areas for tourists
and when an unplugged life lurks we crush it like a cockroach

brown from black, here it is
have a good recovery

proper maintenance of convenient flooding
we honk the morning-star garbage man who dared to take our underpanties

shit paper, then
we picked up trash but something is still smelling

we laugh before the ashtrays spits ejaculations the excessive reveler the bis
a huge disgust, yes we laugh, so here it is

a collective agreement of unskilled who torture little minds
no, we leave this to the scavengers, a throw-down, what the hell

we fling bottles out the window
extremely hot as ass, dig cigarettes into the asphalt ultra-charge

entertainment-law, detention centres, buddies
no, we turn our heads away

they should serve us, they should do the job, infested manual labourers
needless to comment on new sewage duly

dog’s shit in terrace
there’s been a new amendment that enhances hospitals, prisons and armies

the waste policy is overly reminded
chemicals’ inhalation, we gave large grants

shameful are both gallows and our necks
to the divine sanitarian ergonomic quiet fortune we allow ourselves

money cannot be wasted, overloaded pockets
jerks, let us drown unorganized inorganically in stench in public care

ultra blast of waste bins
our binge contributes to all these

to squeeze the hematin hurricane
to be filled with sick scumbags

to slot the universe with feces, needles, skag and rotten piss
have a good corrosion if you please.

Some thoughts on the struggle of the people of Keratea (click on the photo to read...)

In the early hours of April 14th, people dug a two-meter deep ditch across the Lavrion Avenue, leading to Keratea –permanently blocking out traffic. Hours later, new scuffles broke out with cops who rushed to the spot. On April 18th, ahead of the Easter break and following an intervention of the Church, the ministry of ‘Citizen Protection’ announced its plan to withdraw all police forces from Ovriokastro and Keratea. The construction machinery was also withdrawn from the area, while it was announced that the ministry of Environment would enter into negotiations with the municipality. That day, there was a feeling of victory running across the barricades of Keratea (related videos > a, b, c).

The struggle in not over…