Transgressio Legis: An insurrectionary anarchist group in Athens engaged in counterinformation and direct action
Our group began in early November, and our main subjects of interest were support for prisoners (social and political) and, practically speaking, direct actions centred around attacks. Practice rioting. In the first month there was the general hunger strike by the prisoners, with 5,000 participating in prisons all around Greece. Then there was the demonstration in Thessaloniki for Vaggelis Botzatzis and the three wanted comrades. After this we were in a period of critical thinking and evaluation. The campaign was a big success in influencing prisoners; most of them participated, and they captured the attention of all Greek society. It became known, and the news spread internationally. On the other hand the mass media of Greece buried the story They did not focus on the efforts of the prisoners themselves, they focused on the different organizations and political parties that participated as intermediaries between the prisoners and the government. In the period that we and other groups were busy evaluating this campaign, suddenly everything was interrupted by the sound of three bullets in Exarchia.
The assassination of Alexis created parallel opportunities for many different courses to be realized by society in general. It made openings for masses of people to adopt practices that in other circumstances they would never adopt: the lootings, the burning, especially the attacks against the police. On the other hand there were people who had been preparing and carrying out such actions for many years. And through the continuity of these attacks over the last few years and the powerful propaganda of the government and mass media against these actions, society knew from the first moment that l when they come down to Exarchia, they would find people who would help them to smash, burn, and attack. When society felt the need to revolt, they knew from the beginning where they could find people who would help them respond to this brutality as equals, It was the same in Thessaloniki and other cities. So because of all this, all the people with different grievances, everyone who was fed up with the scandals and problems of the last years, the people who were fed up with the low salaries, the people who couldn’t stand their schools anymore, the immigrants who couldn’t stand the brutality and insults of the police anymore, all these people knew where they could find comrades who would help them to revolt. The people were witnessing the attacks by anarchists for many years and they knew that there were specific points in the city where they would find comrades to help them fight back.
The assassination was the straw that broke the camel's back. Especially for students, but also for the anarchists and the activists and immigrants and precarious workers and all the people in the society who were oppressed and exploited. The most important development was the occupation of government buildings and universities, they would function as starting points, as places to prepare the riots, as well as counter-information spaces. Some very important moments in December were the result of decisions made at general assemblies, not just the initiative of small groups. Like the burning of Tiresias, the central archive of the treasury where they keep all the information relating to people’s debts to the government or to the banks. Another important moment was when the policeman who killed Alexis was brought to court. One hundred people attacked the convoy he was in with molotovs in a very well-planned action. It was particularly difficult because it took place in front of the central courthouse while there were a ton of police protecting it. And it was a great success. Then there was the initiative to attack the metro stations, breaking the ticket machines, writing graffiti in all the stations, and spreading thousands of pamphlets demanding free transportation as well as criticizing the meaning of public transportation as travel from home to work and back home, like a poleodomic, an urban symbol of obedience to the compartmentalization of life in jobs and houses.
And we can’t forget the attack on the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning. The entire building burned to cinders. This was in solidarity with the people of Lefkimi, a town in Corfu, who for the last year have been fighting hard against the police and the government to keep a new garbage dump from being built in their area. In the riots the cops had killed a woman, one of the protesters. So they burned this ministry building completely After this action, which became very public because of all the announcements that appeared in the blogs and Indymedia and other Internet sites of the movement, the people of the town sent a letter of thanks for the solidarity actions, an official announcement of thanks. These were just some of the actions that happened in the first ten days.
An important part of the spirit of December was that tens of thousands of high school students appeared in the streets all around Greece, most of them for the first time, even as young as twelve and thirteen years old. Many of the students occupied their own schools and then used them to prepare street protests and attacks against police stations with molotovs and stones. There were times when twenty-five different police stations were simultaneously under attack by high schoolers. This produced the image that a civil war was occurring just like sixty years ago, but instead of being between the communists and the right wing, it was between the youth and the government. In addition to the student occupations there were occupations of government and municipal buildings all over the country carried out by old people, young people, and workers. It was a meeting of many social elements. Many of these other people didn’t become as active, they didn’t participate as much as anarchists were hoping they would, but it was a great moment, this meeting.
It was very empowering for us that solidarity actions took place all over the world. Many of these actions took place in countries where it is very difficult to carry out direct actions and the feeling that comrades in these countries were taking action for the Greek movement gave us the power to do more here. And we want to say thank you. This solidarity also produced a great fear among the governments of the planet, demonstrated for example by how Sarkozy revoked the law to privatize the universities to avoid general riots in France.
There were also many funny incidents in December. Perhaps the funniest was on the 10th of December. We jacked a fire engine and were driving it around. We got on the CB radio and radioed to the dispatcher, we were saying, “Tonight you motherfuckers we will burn you all!" At the time the journalists had been saying hysterically that the anarchists were burning everything to the ground and the fire department couldn’t stop the fires, so this was a great joke. And the girl in the station was saying, “Please get off this frequency because we are getting lots of calls and we can’t coordinate all the different fire engines around the city." She was begging. At the same time that all this happened, the symbol of Christmas consumption, the big Christmas tree in front of Parliament was in flames. Journalists were shouting on all the channels that 300 anarchists broke through the line of riot cops and are going behind the Parliament to burn down the house of the prime minister, and this was true. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was facing molotov attacks, the main commercial street of Kolonaki was being completely burned at the same moment, and during all this the regime was in a complete panic and they were spreading rumours on the TV that we were under the threat of dictatorship and the only solution would be to call down the army and restore order.
The attacks against the police were very heavy. The molotovs came down like rain. We weren’t using small beer bottles anymore, we were making molotovs with big wine bottles. We had no more fear. There was a very strong feeling that we had the moral right to attack the government and the police. There were many normal people in the riots who were helping us in every way. When they saw comrades with molotovs, they were telling us where the police were. They protected us from the police the same way, giving us warnings. And when the rumours started to spread that the military would be called into the streets, we were wishing it would happen so that what we have been talking about for all these years, the civil war, the class war, would become a reality
We personally participated in the riots of '91 and ’95, which were the biggest riots in Greece over the last few decades. But for us, December was the first time that people felt so courageous and enthusiastic. And this feeling was spread among non-political people, it didn’t matter if they were anarchists or leftists or political activists, it was the general feeling of society manifested by pure and deep hatred against the police. Whoever saw police uniforms saw a target, and this expanded from one side of the country to the other.
During the riots, the incredible thing is that people appeared and took on important roles when up until that moment they had been volomeni, people who were complacent and had their basic needs met, like a car and television and a house. Even these people felt that this was a great moment for Greek society and they felt an urge to come down to the streets and take part in the riot. In a practical way this enabled everything to happen.
Our cause has always been to produce chaos. What many people say is a utopia, we have experienced it in our lifetimes. And as we have succeeded in living it once, we are 100% sure that it will happen again on a global scale. And this certainty exists because the simple people who maybe vote for the conservative party or live their normal lives, there comes a moment when they realize that the only way to succeed in their lives is to lose, to lose their normal lives, and the moment they realize this they come into the streets in the most powerful of ways and fight alongside the initiators and provokers of these fights. And then we have to take care to allow these people to become the vanguard of the struggle, and not us.