First, we should make it clear that it is impossible to express in words what we’ve experienced in the streets on February 12th. The street battles in Athens and other Greek cities reached a level of uprising, while the rage of people broke out simultaneously in many places, making the record of each and every one of the innumerable acts of insurrection an impossible task. However, we will attempt to highlight some scenes from Athens as lived at the barricades and also reported from our comrades in numerous counter-information trenches.
Syntagma in the Afternoon: ‘Cops, Pigs, Murderers’ our vast street talk
An estimated 500,000 took to the streets of Athens on last Sunday, third day of nationwide anti-austerity mobilization. This one was a very motley crowd: one could see from patriot thugs — both leftist and ultra-right — to Stalinists of PAME and Trotskyist factions; also, a lot of middle-aged people who were not part of a specific block; among the diverse crowd were also ultras, unionists, people from popular assemblies, many migrants, insurrectionist and wild youths, anarchist and libertarian individuals and groups. The protest was scattered in many different parts. Massive police force fired tear gas repeatedly at us, as if we were cockroaches destined to be killed due to adverse effects as far as allergies of Power. Demonstrators remained outside the parliament chanting anti-repression slogans. Many steps back, and many steps forth, back and forth, with evolving clashes at the lower part. The sound and stink of flash-bang grenades and chemicals made the entire space feeling like a cage. And most of us did not seem eager to counterattack immediately and raid the brothel of democracy en mass.
Law School: We went down, down, down, and the flames went higher
A barricade was erected at the intersection of Panepistimiou and Voukourestiou streets. The ground was littered with pieces from the battle that had taken place shortly before, while facades on both sides of the street had been destroyed or partially damaged. Many demonstrators were heading towards Syntagma and many others walked to the district of Kolonaki, while several remained behind the barricade looking towards the Propylaea, about 200 feet away, where 500-600 anarchists, autonomous, insurrectionists and proletarians fought fierce battle with the army of riot police that blocked access to Syntagma square. One could hear the explosions of Molotovs — several reinforced with dynamite — and the firing of shock grenades everywhere. The road surface was filled with stones and bleached by tear gas. Gradually, it passed from mouth to mouth, that full-scale clashes and arsons were carried out in the streets from Syntagma to Omonia, and from Solonos street to the area of Monastiraki. However, having an overall picture of the riots was impossible by then. Soon, after we joined the occupied Law School, an urgent appeal was addressed through its loud sound system: ‘More people must maintain Akadimias street and keep police away, to ensure the safe return of those who are fighting near Propylaea.’ Such were more or less the public messages transmitted from the occupied Law School at the time, along with music. Police squads attacked relentlessly the insurrectionists who remained in Akadimias street, defending Massalias street and the side entrance to the building. For more than two hours the pigs fired tear gas, shock grenades and even rubber bullets, and continuously hurled stones back at us, as we kept the squatted building by all means possible. About 200 enraged hooded youths, the same people who are often condemned as a ‘violent minority’ by reformists and all sorts of reactionaries, stood there and fought in dignity. This ‘minority’ that sets fire to the foundations of the capitalist civilization, maintained the most important base of struggle open, during the most critical moments of the day, offering refuge to protesters downtown. There were several elderly demonstrators who were passing through Massalias street, with anti-gas masks on, urging the youngsters to stand up and fight. We later moved on to Stadiou and Panepistimiou streets and walked on Akadimias street again; it became more than evident that demonstrators refused to be cleared out of the streets, despite the blatant repression, while many of us got the sense that there was a routine acceptance of whatever unfolded before people’s eyes —alarms sounding, properties smashed, shops looted, clashes raging, buildings wrapped in flames… A few moments uniquely felt; not forgotten. The occupation of the Law School ended in the early hours of Monday, February 13th. With all its advantages and disadvantages, it was a stronghold during those days (9-13/2) and an integral part of street clashes.
Footage from first day of latest protests (10/2) in Syntagma square, with police squads… losing confidence in themselves
Information is like the whirlwind, till this day > Athens– hundreds of thousands of people, of all ages and backgrounds, on the streets; full-scale clashes from early evening; the crowd more than determined; rioters stormed or torched several banks, administrative buildings, urban culture and consumption ‘temples’, jewelries, loan sharks, multinational coffeehouse and clothing chain stores; many injured protesters; arrests; tear gas everywhere; central police stations attacked; extensive looting; physical violence; occupied city halls in various suburbs > Volos– mutiny in juvenile prisons; extraordinary scenes downtown; bank burnt to the ground; riots; tax office stormed; arrests; youngsters chased by cops, two girls forced to dive into the sea > Corfu– people stormed the offices of the MPs Gerekou and Dendias > Thessaloniki– extensive riots; police attacks > Rethymno, Crete– occupied city hall; large demonstration, Molotovs, banks attacked > Agrinio– protesters stormed the office of development deputy minister Moraitis; many people held an assembly in the central square > Trikala– banks smashed with hammers; unknown number of detentions > Larissa– large demonstration; the prefecture building occupied for a few hours; patrol car attacked with stones; new demo called for the next day > Chania, Crete– large demonstration; prefecture building occupied for many days > Veria– over two hundred participants in the march; slogans painted on city’s walls > Patras– extensive riots > Rhodes– occupied city hall > Serres– nearly two hundred people on the streets > Kavala– occupied prefecture building > Kozani– nearly eighty people marched, despite the cold and the snow; slogans written on banks > Sitia, Crete– bank torched > and while Anonymous were taking down government-run websites, MPs in parliament were voting ‘yes to all’…
Shortly After Midnight: Such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness
The bourgeois parody ended when 199 of the MPs had voted in favour of the second memorandum agreement between the Greek State and the Troika (EU/ECB/IMF), thereby approving the harshest austerity measures and condemning, once again, the people to impoverishment. The damn Press of the regime spread slanders right away against anarchists, anti-authoritarians and insurgents, while Alexis Tsipras, party president of the Coalition of the ‘Radical’ Left, denounced who he called ‘parastatal forces’ that had burned the city of Athens. While the minions of Power such as the mayor Giorgos Kaminis were unequivocally denouncing street fighting, black smoke was seen rising from dozens of buildings in the metropolis, sending a message of resistance and disobedience to the world.
Elderly man hit by DELTA police motorcycle units on Ermou Street, in downtown Athens (12/2); the bystanders who called for an ambulance at the spot, now testify that cops also beat the man with batons
The Day After: Candles for ruins, pre-trial incarcerations and media orchestrations
It was only in the morning, and after many hours of efforts, that firefighters managed to extinguish the flames of freedom. And there’s a mourning short period after such events, where citizens eagerly hold candles over their ruins. That hypocrisy is beyond words. Athens seems to have burned scars, with a flood of terror-frenzy scenarios in the media making ‘normality’ extremely fragile. We know as well as the Power knows, that flames rose high in the streets on February 12th, flames that may ignite other fires to burn worldwide. If this brief rebellious manifestation will not extend beyond the state borders, it will not vindicate us. In present times, amidst another round of protests on February 19th, international solidarity and complicity are more important than ever before. Solidarity with the struggle in Greece means to attack directly on any infrastructure of the State and the Capital, often within walking distance from your place. Because it is important to say that whoever wants to show factual solidarity cannot claim ‘I’m Greek too’ or ‘we are all Greeks’. The solidarity that can help our struggle is against any nations, against patriotism, is attacking the State’s structures and its supporters, spreading the idea of freedom for everyone. Reciprocal aid means that we are not ‘all Greeks’; we are of no country, of no nationality; we are what our revolutionary solidarity will gradually make us.
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“… another round of protests on February 19th…”
Athens, evacuation of Syntagma square, February 19th, 2012