Greek riots eyewitness reports - 18 December 2008

Greek riots eyewitness reports - 18 December 2008

The days updates including a mass student demonstration in Athens and the occupation of another trade union office in Patras.

08.54: Student shot in Peristeri, Athens; student demo set to start
Last night, a 16-year old school boy was shot and injured in the area of Peristeri, Athens, close to his school, which has been occupied for four days. The incident occurred yesterday around known but only emerged in the media today.

The 16-year old was sitting with about ten more students, discussing future mobilisations. The shot came from a person unknown, though it is near-certain that this would be either an undercover cop or a fascist. The police only issued a statement hours later. When the 16-year old’s co-students returned to the point of the assault to collect the bullet’s shell, another bullet was shot at them.

The bullet hit the kid in the rest, and he is now in hospital for surgery. The injury is not big and the kid is not in danger.

Athens student demonstration is set to start, under some heavy rain.

08.59: GSEE occupation, Athens
I promised you yesterday to give you more details of the open meeting at the GSEE taken over building.

As I told you a lot of workers attended, the decision was for a general strike today and a meeting at 11:00 at the Museum in order to take part in today's demo. A lot of workers unions have accepted that decision, and they are either on 1 day strike for today or for a 3 hours one, in order their workers to be able to attend the demonstration.

A new General Assembly has been organized for today at 17:00

I am off to Athens city centre for todays demo, I will be back online later today for updates.


09.48 Athens
Greek police are saying it was an airgun which shot the boy. Apparently the kid is the child of one of the leaders of the teachers federation

13.31 Athens
Reuters reports 7000 demonstrators outside Parliament, with Molotov cocktails being thrown

Many riot police are defending the new Christmas tree which replaced the one torched by demonstrators last week.

16.49 Athens
Hello from Athens, I am at the usual pc from my friend's house, in Echarxia. I had to leave at the end of the demo and did not go to the taken over Law Department, because I would have big breathing problems if I stayed on the street for any longer.

A big student and workers demo took place in the centre of Athens today starting from Propylaia. It started rather late, because of heavy rainfall, but the rain did not stop the people from comming. Difficult to estimate the number, I am sure more than 10000 of protestors flooded the centre of Athens, maybe even 15000 ... From the start up to the parliament nothing happened, but also there was not really police present... Apart their absence nothing was broken during that period.

At the parliament at Syntagma square there was an attack against the police. A couple of petrol bombs were thrown as well as paint, fruits and stones towards the police. A part of the demo reached toward the police line and attacked.... The police responce was with these new chemicals and stud grenades that were thrown inside the demo directly to the people. Some petrol bombs were also thrown and to the new christmass tree at Syntagma square (the previous one was burned during riots) but the police came to ... protect it and the fire was put off by the fire brigade.

The demo was "pushed" by the police back towards propylaia and from there towards the taken over building of the Law Department. At propylaia, stones were again thrown against the police who responded with chemicals and grenades again. One person was definately arrested there.... An ambulance also appeared, I think one demonstrator suffered from breathing problems... I fully understand him.

The demo stopped there, the most people left but a lot also entered the taken over Law Department of the University of Athens. About 300 people were outside the department and were fighting against the police for quite a while. The police nearly surrounded the Law Department, I think one more arrest was also made there.

Inside the Law Department a general assembly took place, and a decision was made that the comrades will go to Peristeri, at a demo that must have allready started there now, for the injured kid from a gunshot. I had a phone conversation with a comrade who was at the assembly just a minute ago, they are now on the street forming a block and are heading towards Peristeri.

You can see a video of what happened at Syntagma here : It is from the live cam of website.

Some photos also here :

In Peristeri, a demo has been announced after the incident with the injury of the school pupil yesterday. It is called by the school pupils but also one more demo has been called on the same time from KKE (Greek Communist Party). The father of the kid is a teacher and a member of the teachers federation, and a member of PAME, the workers union of KKE. The kid is also a communist, member of SASA.

About that incident a bit more info : First of all I should correct a couple of mistakes on my earlier post on that matter. Firstly the incident happened last night around 11 and not noon ... Also the school was not taken over up to that point, this is exactly what the 8 kids were discussing about. All of them were members of the 15 membered student assembly of that school.

It is now confirmed, even by the police, that it was a normal gun that fired and not an airgun. This was the result after the examination of the bullet, that was taken out of his hand after the surgery. It is a 38 gun that fired, so it could also be a police gun, as they have the same type. The bullet shell has not been found yet, so the gunman should be on a distance and not close, this also explains the fact that the injury of the kid was not big enough.

Because of the political backround of the kid and his parents, and the nature of the conversation that they were having, the most of the people are assuming that this was not some kind of an accident, but an actual attack against the kid, an attempt to murder, but the murderer missed the target because he was not close enough... Of course nothing is certain yet, and an investigation from the police is taking place, after the recent events though not a lot of people trust the police so much ..... The fact that the police firstly said that it was an airgun, then a 22 mm gun and finally a 38 draws a lot of suspicions for an attempt to cover up the whole thing by them ...

There was tention again in Amalias str, a lot RIOT police was still there I dont know what is happening now, I think the situation must be more calm...

I will come back with more info, I think I will go down the road again.

#27, 16:55: Student demo heavily tear gased in Athens
The big student demo in Athens is being heavily tear gassed. The cops are using a new type of stronger gas. Most of us have retreated in the law school. A money transfer van is on fire. People have entered a nearby church, ringing its bells at every tear gas shot, adding a slightly surreal touch to the scene.

18.16 Athens:
A small update.... there is nearly no practical way to reach the occupied Law Department without finding police in front of you.. Groups of police men are everywhere ready to arrest who ever looks "suspicious" ....

This is going to be an "interesting" night ...

18.21 Athens
some updates from the demo and the anti-racist assembly and part of a demo:
I have just come back home, the amount of chemicals they threw today seemed to me like tones, but I could be wrong although at the time I was passing Panepistimiou str the stench in the air was still very uncomfortable. They were not throwing anything at that time (about 6.45 pm) but had thrown previously at the surrounding streets from the Law uni and maybe also Akadimias street, so a good hour and a half afterwards the chemicals were still floating in the atmosphere, and like I said, it was not the best place to be, especially if someone has breathing problems and I think the clashes between the riot squads and protesters is still going on and might continue (Haven't seen the news yet). Dimitris has mentioned what happened at the main assembly of the students/workers and the demo afterwards.(this is an addition to his post)
It was mainly peaceful (most of the time and the part of the demo that I attended) although by the time we reached in front of the Parliament there were chemicals thrown against us, and paint was thrown against the riot squads that were lined up in front of two police vans(-buses) that were parked across Vasilisis Sofia's avenue at the side of the parliament. I wasn't at the front of the demo when they started throwing chemicals, but by the time I reached they had thrown already at least a couple and i did not see any of the protesters attacking the police just throwing ballons filled with red paint, so I can not verify that the protesters started the clashes, but anyway paint and molotov cocktails from one side and chemicals on the other ...not the same thing I think,but anyway after some lovely abuse was shouted against the police and one of the balloons with paint hit one police man and made a complete red mess of his uniform and clapping and cheering from the crowd I left, so no actual knowledge about the rest, I heard though that the clashes started less than an hour after the demo was over, around Solonos and the surrounding str of the Law uni
As far as the anti-racist assembly at Syntagma it was peaceful and by the time I left (about 6.45 pm ) no chenicals from them or paint from our side, but I have to admitt this was a different crowd than this morning (not the throwing paint kind, maybe or maybe not, but we were definitely not as big as the crowd earlier). It was a decent enough gathering considering the accumulated tiredness of all these days and the fact that there was the bigger demo earlier. There were a nice group of students with drums that kept the beat, there were plenty of banners saying how we are all united in our fight, there were a couple of speakers and plenty of slogans shouted towards the direction of the parliament. By the time we started for our demo towards the building of European Union (I think, we never made it there) it was about 6.30 pm, we turned right to Vasilisis Sofia's ave but the same two vans were parked across the street and 3 rows of riot squads were lined up in front of them. We reached as close as they let us, shouted our slogans and there was an attempt of a negotiation with the chief there to let us through, they didn't but suggested a team of about 15 people with our written requests to pass through, at that we shouted back our slogans, some of which I thoroughly enjoyed and after that some people started to leave. So that's it from me, only I have to add there was another demo that started earlier -about 12.30 pm(organized by PAME and/or KKE), just after the rain stopped, it was not announced as far as I know, but even so it was big and also without any incidents with the police.

#28, 18:23: Student demo ends; stations occupied across the country; trade union building in Patras also occupied
We just came back from the demo in Athens. The cops were, once again, extremely provocative: Tens of tear gas cannisters and stun grenades were shot directly into the crowd. It seems like the newly ordered tear gas supply for the police is here.

People in Athens have been demonstrating and/or rioting for 13 consecutive days and nights.

Meanwhile, occupation of media outlets is spreading across the country: Today, the municipal radio of Tripoli, “Nea Tileorasi” TV in Chania, Politeia FM in Sparta and “Star FM” and “Imagine 897 FM” in Thessaloniki were occupied.

The “Labour Centre” (trade union building) of Patras was also occupied today, in protest against the sold-out leadership of the trade unions, demanding an indefinite general strike now.

18.38 Athens
A lot of chemicals were thrown today... but not the "usual" ones. It is not just breathing problems, I had to throw out twice up to now and I still have a burning feeling on my stomach. I was also dizzy earlier but I am better now. Aparently I am not the only one, others that I have also asked have similar effects from them.... These are definately not tear gasses they are chemicals that can suffocate you .. I dont know what kind, there are people saying that those are normally used in war and not demonstrations and that they are officially banned but I cannot confirm any of these info.
There is this "bomb" they are throwing and when it explodes, tiny little things are coming from inside (like batteries ?) and they spray massive amount of chemicals like white smoke.... these are very nasty

There were 2 petrol bombs thrown before the spraying, well actually more or less on the same time... The attack against the police lines followed, but spraying had allready started of course and paint thrown.

I completely forgot to mention the KKE demo earlier than ours, it was also big and peacefull...

Photos from today:

WE DESTROY THE PRESENT BECAUSE WE COME FROM THE FUTURE - statement of proletarians from the occupied ASOEE

"Τhe first dawning light comes out of the deepest darkness"

Up until the Saturday night of 06/12/08 we could say that "jusqu' ici tout va bien", watching everyone's personal fall into the desert of the capitalist system. Then the crash came, and the destructive madness seized large parts of the youth of the country. At first, like so many times in history, it was the actions that did the talking. First the cop gun talked, shouting in the crudest manner the repulsion of Authority of every kind toward the phenomenon of life. The blood of a teenager was spilt, and immediately another cry instantly transmitted from Exarchia to the economic center of the metropolis and other big cities, a cry made out of collapsing glass and flames, transforming banks and malls into a raging cloud with the inscription: REVENGE.

Two days later the christmas centers of the cities looked as if they had been the targets of war bombing, while the already crisis-ridden economy took another deadly blow in its heart by hordes of "hooligans" looting commodities. "The Varkiza Treaty is broken, we are at war again". We are talking about the return of class struggle to the foreground, we are talking about the solution to the crisis: For us. And we're only getting started. Let's go…

We are part of the revolt of life against the daily death the existing social relations impose on us. With the destructive power that was latent in us we realize a wild (but contradictory) attack on the institution of private property. We occupy the streets, we breath freely despite the tear gas, attacking the most despiteful image of ourselves: the image of ourselves as the bosses' slaves, that in its most extreme, most repugnant form is the cop. We erect a steadfast barricade against the loathsome normality of the cycle of production and distribution. In the current conjunction, nothing is more important than consolidating this barricade against the class enemy. Even if we retreat under the pressure of the (para-) state scum and the insufficiency of the barricade, we all know that nothing will ever be the same in our lives.

We also position ourselves in the historical conjunction of the recomposition of a new class subject, that carries from long ago the promise of assuming the role of the gravedigger of the capitalist system. We believe that the proletariat was never a class because of its position, on the contrary, it constitutes itself as a class for itself on the ground of the clash with the bosses, first acting and only later gaining consciousness of its actions. The recomposition is taking place by groups of subjects that become aware that they have no control over their own lives, from groups that have been -or are getting- squeezed on the bottom of the barrel, and are now entering a contradictionary trajectory toward unification.

Wage work has always been a blackmail. Nowdays this holds even more, as the number of workers that are employed only circumstancially and precariously in sectors which, while necessary for the reproduction of capitalist domination have no social usefulness whatsoever, is also growing. In these sectors, class struggles, exiled from the field of self-management of production, move into the field of the generalized blocking and sabotage. Simultaneously, the automatization of production and the abandonment of the politics of full employment create whole reserve armies of jobless proletarians who are pushed to the fringes of society and resort to insecured labor or turn to crime economy in order to survive. Jobless, precarious workers, highschool and university students destined to become future wage slaves, migrant workers of the first and second generation that daily live the marginalization and the repression constituted along with radical workers' minorities the community of the insurgents of December, a community based on the common condition of alienation and exploitation that defines a society based on commodity-work. Let's remind ourselves that the eve of this feast-day was celebrated from those even lower, from those who have lost every joy in the places of torment of democracy, from the prisoners of the greek prisons.

The owners of the commodity labor-power who had it invested in the stock exchange of social security and in the hope of seeing their offspring exiting this condition through social ascension, continue to observe the insurrectionary party without taking part, but also without calling the police to dissolve it. Along with the substitution of social security with police security and the collapse of the stock market of class movability, many workers, under the burden of the collapsing universe of petit-bourgeois ideology and the state hybris, are moving toward a (socially important) moral justification of the youth outbreak, but without yet joining the attack against this murderous world.

They kept on dragging their corpse on three-month litanies of the professional unionists and on defending a sad sectional defeatism against the raging class aggressiveness that is rapidly coming to the fore. These two worlds met up on Monday, 8/12, on the streets, and the entire country caught on fire. The world of the sectional defeatism took the streets to defend the democratic right of the separated roles of the citizen, the worker, the consumer, to participate in demonstrations without getting shot at. Nearby, not that far away, the world of class aggresiveness took the streets in the form of small organized "gangs" that break, burn, loot, smash the pavements to throw stones onto the murderers. The first world (atleast as expressed in the politics of the professional unionists) was so scared by the presence of the second, that on Wednesday, 10/12, attempted to demonstrate without the annoying presence of the "riff-raff". The dilemma regarding how to be on the streets was already layed in: Either with the democratic safety of the citizen, or with the clash solidarity of the group, the aggressive block, the march that defends everyone's existence with sharp attacks and barricades.

The December events ("Dekemvriana") of 2008 in Greece are the latest link in a series of insurrections that are sweeping through the capitalist world. In its decadent phase, capitalist society neither can, nor does it aim at gaining the consent of the exploited through the integration of partial demands. All that remains is is repression. With the restructuring that began in the mid-seventies (to repel the proletarian mutiny that is known as "movement-68"), capital faced the following contradiction: while it had the ability to create a human mass of passive tv-viewers and commodity-consumers, it had to simultaneously refuse them (by lowering their wages) the possibility of buying these commodities. From this point of view, the looting of a mall in Stadiou str. by people who are daily sharing the promises of a false consumer happiness, while being refused the means to realize these promises, shouldn't come out as a surprise.

The insurrection of December didn't put out any concrete demands, exactly because the participating subjects daily experience, and therefore know the denial of the ruling class to meet any such demand. The wisperings of the left, that initially demanded the removal of the government were replaced by a mute terror and a desperate attempt to relieve the uncontrollable insurrectionary wave. The absence of any reformist demand whatsoever reflects an underground (but still unconscious) disposition toward a radical subversion and surpassing of the existing commodity relations and the creation of qualitatively now ones.

Everything begins and matures in violence – but nothing stops there. The destructive violence that unleashed in the events of December caused the blocking of the capitalist normality in the center of the metropolis, a necessary yet insufficient condition for the transforming of the insurrection into an attempt for social liberation. The destabilation of capitalist society is impossible without paralysing the economy – that is, without disrupting the function of the centers of production and distribution, through sabotage, occupations, strikes. The absence of a positive, creative proposal for a different form of organizing the social relations was –up until now– more than self-evident. Nevertheless, the insurrection of December must be understood within the historical context of an enlivement process of class struggle that takes place on the international level.

A series of struggle practices – some have surfaced in elementary form in many countries where significant class conflicts took place recently – propose and realize in a germinal level the human community that abolishes and creatively transcends the alienated commodity relations: occupied schools can be used as regrouping centers to reclaim the streets and the public space in general; public anti-lessons organized within the context of the recent movement of precarious workers/students in Italy, putting knowledge under the service of the forming community; collective appropriations of supermarkets and bookstores, and the collective life in the occupation as a self-fullfilment of the demands for free feeding, housing, books; the radical contestation of the property relations, cooperation instead of personal appropriation (and sometimes reselling) of the appropriated commodities; neighborhood assemblies linking up, starting from the local issues, prefiguring thus a society where decisions are taken and are executed without the mediation of any separated power whatsoever (sf. Oaxaca); free transportations with the public transportation, the déménages (invading into employment agencies and throwing all their stuff into the street) as were systematically made during the anti-CPE movement in France. These (and countless others, that can be born out of the personal and collective intelligence) are the practises that can enrich and fertilize the powers of negation, so that through the turmoil of insurrection, the free, communist society will start to take shape.

We do everything within our reach not to abandon the occupations and the streets, because we don't want to go home. We get miserable and unhappy with the "realistic" thought that sooner or later we will have to return to normality. We get full of joy with the thought that we are in the beginning of a historical process of enlivenment of class struggle, and that if we want to, if we fight for it, if we believe in it, it can lead us out of the crisis, into the revolutionary getaway from the system.

Proletarians from the occupied ASOEE

A note on solidarity
“Have you heard? There was a solidarity action in Moscow”. And Paris. And Berlin, Mexico City, London, Oaxaca, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, New York (when was a university there last occupied?) and Montreal. And -literally- hundreds of other cities. In the first few days of the revolt we were thinking of trying to put together all the solidarity actions somewhere - this was proven to be, quite simply, impossible: There are hundreds of actions around the globe, thousands of people that have taken to the streets. This is incredible and you can’t believe how important it is for us. Our struggle is common. On December 20th, on the international day of solidarity, let’s show them what we have started to feel here in Greece: That what we’ve seen so far is only the begining.

Update, 22:10 Someone already started putting together a map of solidarity actions around the world. Excellent stuff. Please report your solidarity action here:

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