Patras, Greece: Clashes with cops on May 17th – Antifascist demonstration on May 19th

On the evening of Friday, May 17th in Patras, large-scale clashes took place between anarchists and wild youth, on one side, and law enforcement on the other. It kicked off when cops surrounded the Olgas square, in the centre of the city, in order to break up a group of people who had gathered there, set up a sound system and were playing music.

For several decades, Olgas square has been a meeting point for the subversive youths of the city, and it has functioned as a space for both the free exchange of ideas and undertaking organized actions against the system. For this reason, the State has forced the drug trade into the square, and made sure that undercover cops are always present in the nearby bars, with the consent of their owners. Recently, anarchist groups have attempted to re-appropriate the square, and force out both the drug dealing and the snitches. To this end, an open-air self-organized party has been taking place each week. The intention of this is to promote solidarity and non-commercial relationships, in place of the consumerist leisure that the system, mafia, exploiters and businesspeople offer.

On Friday night, 17/5, using the excuse that, “the music was too loud”, the lapdogs of Power attacked the people who had gathered, as well as a traditional café in the square which is frequented by comrades. During this attack both the waiter and the owner were first hit and then arrested (on yet unknown charges). The police attack was answered by riots in multiple downtown streets, which were lit up by fire for nearly four hours. The clear goal of the police was to not allow the square to be retaken. However, once the cops were distracted by the street fighting, the comrades were able to reoccupy the square.

This incident occurred two days before the planned rally of the Nazi party of Golden Dawn outside their local office on Germanou street, in the Ano Poli neighbourhood. As this was intended to be the first public Golden Dawn rally in the city of Patras, the local anarchist space as well as several left-wing groups had called for an antifascist demonstration that same afternoon, May 19th.

From 17.00 on, people began to gather in Georgiou square and at about 19.30, more than 500 antifascists took Korinthou street, and began marching towards the local office of the Nazis. The police presence was tremendous, and local cops were joined by riot squads sent from other cities in order to protect the fascists. The forces of order both nearly divided the city in two and made a cordon along the sides of the antifascist demo.

More people joined the demonstration and by 20.15 there were more than 800 participants, approximately 400 from the anti-authoritarian/anarchist space (the anarchist block lead the demo) and the rest from various leftist and antiracist groups. The groups defending the demo were both well organized and equipped, and the mood of the march was combative, with continuous chants against the police, the State and the fascists.

The antifascist march ended at the point from which it had begun, Georgiou square, where hundreds of people hung around for hours, until the miserable Nazi party was over. It should be noted that the Goldendawnists were less than 100 (about 30 thugs, and some 50 elderly lovers of the dictatorship).

At the end of the fascist rally the police reopened the streets where they had been diverting traffic, and groups of comrades swept through the city to prevent any undesirable appearances. At about 23.00, in the neighbourhood of Agia Sofia, one of these groups on motorcycles was attacked by a DIAS motorcycle unit. Four comrades were arrested, on yet unknown charges. On May 20th, at noon, they were brought to the prosecutor and were all released, but the hearing was postponed to Wednesday, May 22nd; therefore a gathering in solidarity is called that day, at 12.30 in Patras courts.

Additionally, at around 3am of May 20th, more detentions of comrades (nearly 45) were reported. The first crackdown took place at Olgas square and unfolded just opposite from the Parartima squat (which was closed at the time), where people were trapped after a police chase. Many of the detainees were beaten, but all were released after a while.