Greek riots eyewitness reports - 10 December 2008

Eyewitness updates on the unrest in Greece on the day of the general strike.

Submitted by Steven. on December 11, 2008

#8, 16:46: Updates from Athens and Patras

ATHENS: High School students joined the trade union march. They pelted riot police with stones and paint. In the suburb of Kaisariani the school students attacked the local police station.

Meanwhile, a group of anarchists attacked the central courts while inside Alexandros’ murderer was appearing before the prosecutor. The court’s control room and a media van were set on fire.

PATRAS: General assembly now at the university about yesterday’s events.

#7, 13.28: General strike

UPDATE 13:43 A friend on the phone: “I just walked down Mesogeion ave” (far from the centre) “and a small group of students, 12-13 year old, are attacking a riot police van. They are just armed with stones but they are totally going for it!”

UPDATE 13:35 TV footage already shows 12-year old students pelting the riot police with stones this morning; fresh rioting has erupted at the Propylea of the university of Athens; riot police threw tear gas at people sitting in cafeterias &those people attacked them in response. The stalinist trade union (PAME) has already retreated and left the street. Now is our time!

Today is the day. Yesterday’s events showed that the Greek state will try to end the rebellion as soon as possible. The fascists are now out on the streets; mainstream media carry fresh reports this morning that the government has decided to declare a state of emergency tomorrow (Thursday), should the rioting not end by then. Reports on indymedia claim that the ballistic report of Alexandros’ death has been altered to claim show the cop’s bullet bounced off before killing Alexandros (should this happen, his killer cop will avoid conviction).

These are all rumours, but now seem increasingly likely to happen. What will happen today is extremely important and will define what happens from now on. I’m heading for the street, next short reports will come in from there.

3:11am, Patras: This is what a junta looks like!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
eyewitness report

Tuesday’s demonstration was called by local anarchist groups. Participation was phenomenal by the city’s standards - around 3,000 people (some reports put this number up to 5,000) took the streets of Patras behind the anarchist banners and against state violence. The march cruised through the city; banks were smashed. Meanwhile, the city’s police force had gathered around the main police station in order to protect it.

Toward the end of the demo however the riot police launched a major attack, forcing it to retreat toward the city’s historical university building (the so-called parartima). Soon thereafter, the most incredible attack began: Tens of fascists (that seem to had gathered in Patras from across the country, in a pre-planned joint operation with the police) attacked the demonstration with knives and stones. Co-ordinating perfectly with the police, they continued their attack and, according to some reports, even did some joint arrests. The demonstrators were confronted with the following unbelievable spectacle: They were facing a group of people throwing them police-owned tear gas while chanting “blood-honour-golden dawn” (the name of a nazi group in Greece).

The demonstrators’ block (which only numbered around 500 at the time, as this happened near the end of the demo) was completely torn apart; people were chased all the way into their flats; demonstrators had to seek refuge in flats in 10s and 20s, while the cops and the nazis would smash their windows and try to force entry.

Patras Indymedia reports 26 detentions and 9 arrests. Thankfully, the reports that the fascists would head for the city’s Afghan refugee camp have proven false so far.

What makes the above story even more unbelievable is that the mainstream media report it as the “local business owners” being the ones who attacked the demonstrators, “taking the law into their own hands”. Putting aside the …minor detail that absolutely no local businesses were damaged (only multinational banks, the courts and the police station), these supposed “shop owners” and “respectful citizens” were depicted in media in their balaclavas, holding knives! There was an unbelievable joint police-fascist operation in Patras today and they are trying to cover it up and to claim the public has turned against the demonstrators.

It is crucial to confront their lies and to resist their repression - the future of this movement could depend on this. Please spread the word.

Athens, the day after Alexandros’ death: a policeman aiming at demonstrators, the second one pretending to be doing so. On 9.12 in Patras, police shot ruber bullets at the demonstrators

“We are an image from the future”…
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
(graffiti at the occupied University of Economics in Athens)

…faced with a dark, dark image from the past.

Fascists working with cops run amok in Patras; they stab two in Athens; police shoot 15 times in the air in Palaio Faliro and a flaming car is driven against the police station of Zefyri, Athens. These are what I consider to be the most important events of the day; there’s so many others (more attacks at police stations; tens of demonstrators arrested in cities across the country etc) – but it’s simply impossible to summarise everything here. The most important events of the day are those of Patras. Please read the separate post and spread the news.

police shoot a total of 15 bullets against youths meters away from Alexandros’ funeral

…and here’s a summary of today’s events in Athens. The day started with the funeral of Alexandros at the cemetery of the southern neighbourhood of Palaio Faliro. There was a mass turnout at the funeral, including many anarchists, high school students and local youth. The small group that took the neighbourhood’s streets after the funeral comprised mostly of these – simply kids from the neighbourhood angered at Alexandros’ death. What the image above shows is a policeman of the “Z-force” (Omada Zita, the police’s motorcyclist unit) who shot a total of 15 shots in the air. This is a few hundred meters from where Alexandros’ funeral took place a few hours earlier.

Meanwhile, in the city centre, there was much tension around Syntagma Square (see previous post), with high school students impressively confronting the riot police. It wouldn’t be until later in the evening that the by now usual rioting zones would start shaping up around two of the occupied university campuses (of the NTUA and of the University of Economics). I want to briefly describe my personal experience of tonight, not because a personal story is that important but because it might be able to help outside readers put things in context (to an extent, I also consider myself an outsider to this!)

Perhaps, the feeling of comfort and familiarity I felt after meeting up with good old friends made the feeling of unfamiliarity even starker once I stepped onto the streets this evening. This was a weird feeling, and one I have never felt before in Athens – a feeling that you had to have a clear reason to be on the streets: For the uprising or against it – but definitely one of the two. Like being in a remotely located demonstration, where you are either a demonstrator or the police; except this is in the heart of a bustling metropolis and all there is, it seems to be, is people angrily reacting to the death of Alexandros on the one side, and those who caused his death on the other. To get around Eksarhia these days you need to master the skill of zig-zaging around streets and blocks, to avoid riot police units, the hoards of undercover police and of course, the fascists.

My poor zig-zaging skills nevertheless brought me to the grounds of the NTUA, where a good 2,000 people quite clearly would show who it is we are fighting with. An absolutely crazy mix of groups of punks, migrants, junkies and anarchists lined up across Patision Ave outside the Polytechnic; dancing, drinking and waiting for the riot police to come.

A few hundred meters (and some more zig-zaging) away, at the grounds of the University of Economics, a 400-500 person assembly was taking place, the subject being the anarchist presence at tomorrow’s general strike. You will have to wait for tomorrow to hear how that went; however, the most important and shocking developments came a good few hours later…

Reports started coming in that fascist groups had started making their appearance in the area and around Victoria Square in particular. One male (a migrant, his ethnicity is not being reported) and one woman have been stabbed tonight. This was after we had heard about the incredible course of events in Patras. Combining the two, it becomes quite clear: The “official” Greek state has reached its limit in dealing with the revolts. Monday’s riots were simply out of the police’s capacity for control. This is the time for its informal forces to kick in: the fascists. Their perfectly coordinated attacks in Patras clearly shows this.

This is not a time to panic, of course – we have so many new allies on our side that if we play this properly the fascists won’t dare strike again. The attack against the police station of Zefyri shows this: Zefyri, in the outskirts of the city, is one of the most deprived (if not the most deprived) neighbourhoods of Athens, with a large Roma majority population. At about 10pm tonight, a crowd of around six hundred besieged the police station, attacking it with molotov cocktails while a flaming car was driven toward the building (though stopped by guards before reaching it).

I guess it is quite evident from the above that this is an extremely tense situation and everyone feels that we are reaching a make or break point. Tomorrow’s general strike is absolutely crucial. People have to fight four days of tiredness; the sold-out trade unions that have turned the demonstration in a static gathering (to prevent mobility of the crowd and make it easier to control); the police running amok – and now the fascists too. Things are going to be far from easy, but there is no other way to get rid of those images from the past.

taken from