Lito: The Exarchia resident who filmed the killing of Alexis and became the principal witness in the trial of the two cops responsible
Now I really know what terrorism means
I remember telling myself some years ago that I lived in a military camp, with all the police around Exarchia. Now I say that I live in a war zone. What happened in December, I never believed that it could happen. For me, there was always a limit, a final line, and when the police crossed it, there was a qualitative change. Everything changed. Everyone understood that there was a certain horizon to the situation and beyond it everything was different. We have passed this horizon. It is not a conflict anymore, it is war.
For a month after the killing I felt rage, but also an unbelievable silence. It was the first time in ten years that Exarchia has been silent, dead silent. It was very disconcerting. Now I've had time to think about everything but in the very beginning I was completely exhausted from talking about it, all the questions. I put up my video on Indymedia and from there TV stations picked it up. Soon journalists were calling me constantly, and i was seeing my video everywhere. For the first few months I was in a very strange state. I was never calm. I was in a state of shock for a month. Now I feel more better, but whenever I hear a certain sound... the stun grenade that the police threw a few minutes before they killed Alexis triggered a security alarm in one of the shops, or maybe a car. So during the entire video you hear this security alarm going off in the background. I kept seeing my video everywhere, it was on the TV and everything, and when I hear this specific alarm on the other side of the street, the feeling of the shooting comes back to me. I really want to go ask them to change the sound of the alarm because all the memories come back to me. It's unbelievable that a sound brings up these feelings it took me one month to recover from.
The assassination of Alexis was the last straw. There is no more tolerance for the police. The killing was so outrageous, so far beyond the limits. The people reacted and still continue to react. They are empowered by the rage that was expressed at the start of the killing. There were many other problems too, besides police brutality. These problems continue, but the people don't tolerate them, not anymore.
I don't know if Exarchia is more autonomous now than before. The people, the ones who are active, they try. And me, I always feel autonomous, but now I really know what terrorism means. From the day they killed Alexis to the day when the guerilla group attacked the police, the police did not appear on the corner where Alexis was killed. But when Revolutionary Struggle made this attack, the first thing the police did was to occupy the spot where Alexis was shot, and they stayed there for twenty-four hours. This was the riot police, with helmets, guns, everything. And when they came at midday, I was on the balcony and one of them looked up at me. I think because during this whole period the telephone was ringing, journalists were calling and trying to find out where this video had come from. When the one cop looked up at the balcony, I gestured like, "what do you want?" And he jabbed the guy at his side and pointed me out, and I felt completely terrified by the way they were looking at me. That night, I heard some neighbours talking, and then crying, and the cops were sitting right on the spot where Alexis died. I came out to see what was happening, and because I couldn't see I peered out discretely over my balcony and one of the cops saw me. I felt terrified so I crept back inside but the cop came down below my balcony and made eye contact with me. I thought they would raid my apartment. So I went to my neighbours house. I was terrified.
This is what I call terrorism. It's impossible to just sit on my balcony looking down into the street. Another time, in February I think, there was a car burning down in the street, and the police again came and looked up at me, and I got scared and went back inside my house. The policeman shouted up at me "So you're hiding, eh?", and then I realised, "What the fuck, what is happening, why do I hide?", so I went back to the balcony and I started taking photographs. And the police started taking photographs of me.
You can see everything from this window. That's why I'm thinking of putting a camera there, for the policemen and also for these young people who do many things without thinking about why they do it. Because everywhere there are a few people who can make a small mistake and everyone else has to live with the consequences. Some people say that this is Exarchia, the only thing to do is to burn the shops. But this is not the truth. There are many possible reactions outside the dogma of burning and smashing.
So I'll be in the trial of the policeman who killed Alexis. I was worrying about how I'll feel toward the defence lawyer, because he's defending a very bad person. Then I started to worry about the outcome of the trial. If this cop ends up with only two or three years in jail, I don't know how I would react. How do you react to the decision of a trial like this? Many terrifying things are happening, we hear about them and see them on the news, but it is very different when you see it with your own eyes. It is not just words, it is reality for you, there is no doubt, there is no distance from it. The assassination is such an absolute truth, it is like if you stole something from me, in front of my eyes, and then tell me it never existed. It is not something you just heard about from somewhere else. And I fear very much that if they find this cop not guilty, maybe my reaction will get me thrown in jail. I think about this all the time, as I prepare to testify.