You could see the hatred in their eyes

Kazana Poli: Manager of the posh clothing store Rococo, in the heart of Kolonaki

Submitted by Uncreative on February 1, 2011

One sunny Friday I donned a suit and went with a friend, similarly attired, into Kolonaki, central Athens’ most elite neighbourhood, whose luxury shops and expensive cars were the target of substantial popular violence in December and of a well planned anarchist attack executed in early March. We went into a few shops looking for interviews. My friend introduced me as a British reporter and himself as my official translator. I put on my best posh accent to ask about the “disturbances." The best part of it was that my friend had been to this shop in December - with a mask and a sledgehammer. It was all we could do to keep from cracking up during the interview.

My store was vandalised two times, in December and also at the beginning of March. They destroyed the windows completely and also caused some damages inside the store. It was very bad. In March the troublemakers met in Exarchia, just a few blocks from here, to put their masks on and prepare for their rampage. So lots of people saw them and the police were called in advance. But the police came really late. I don’t think they did their job well. They just came to write up all the damages but that’s not enough.

Business definitely went down in December and after the attack in March. People in Athens were afraid to come downtown and go shopping. And we here in the shop have been afraid too. Every time I hear a loud noise I think the troublemakers have returned. I’ll hear a loud noise and my mind will immediately go back to those moments. And also all the protests they’re still holding are keeping the shoppers away.

You can’t really be sure if the attacks are related to the episode with the students, in December. Of course there’s no real connection. As a businesswoman I think it’s quite strange that Kolonaki has been hit twice. I find that quite suspicious. Because as a result people are leaving the city centre and going to do their shopping in the big malls in the suburbs. So this vandalism is benefiting major interests like Latsis [a Greek billionaire] and the other people who own the malls. As a merchant, that’s my perspective.

But you have to understand that of course I support peaceful protests. If you want to protest something you should go out into the street and do it peacefully. This is how you show your support for an issue. You don't go around breaking things. I was also sad after the killing of that boy but in my view the troublemakers who damaged the shops were bad people. You could see the hatred in their eyes. They were very provocative, the way they would look you right in the eyes as they were smashing the windows. It was just mean. This proves they had nothing to do with the students, who went out into the streets with very just demands. It should be peaceful.