hm... | 20.09.2004 15:48 | Globalisation
από West Midlands Anarchists 5:35μμ, Δευτέρα 20 Σεπτεμβρίου 2004
(Τροποποιήθηκε 6:46μμ, Δευτέρα 20 Σεπτεμβρίου 2004)
Antiauthoritarian Movement and the insurrectionists.
Due to the reputation of the Greek anarchists, I assumed that the protests against the EU summit in Thessaloniki would end in a riot at least as violent as Genoa, I arrived in Greece a week before the university was occupied. This was to get to know the layout of the city and also to meet the Greeks. I ended up hanging around with the Anti-authoritarian Movement Salonika, one of three major anarchist factions in Thessaloniki, and from what I could gather, the best organised, most disciplined group with the best politics. The other factions were the group who worked quite closely with them, doing the less glamorous anarchist work such as the Indymedia Centre, and the younger more disorganised group who were called the insurrectionists by everyone else.
Coming from the UK, the Anti-authoritarian Movement seemed amazingly proffessional. As well as the fact that for a recent anti-war demo they managed to bring together a block over 500 people strong to attack the US consulate with, there were little things which made them seem more serious than any other group I've come across, like cleaning the downstairs of their office in the city centre everyday. They were the first group to squat the university on the Saturday, and did it very cleanly without having to break anything. They just asked for the keys, and got them, and for the week that we were there the building they were in stayed more or less as we found it, with maybe a bit of extra graffitti, although there was lots to begin with.
This was a big contrast with the insurrectionists, who also seemed to have a lot of nihilists with them (the ones who went around writing "destroy everything" everywhere), who squatted their building on the Monday by smashing their way in and then running around inside for half an hour breaking as many doors and other stuff as possible, letting off fire extinquishers and all sorts of crazy shit. Now, while this may be great fun, tactically it was incredibly stupid, as in Greece the police are not allowed on the university campus unless a serious crime has taken place and they are invited on to the premises by the university authorities, so if things had continued they could have brought the cops in before we were fully prepared. As they were planning on sleeping there for a week, it also seemed pretty stupid to smash it up the day they arrived. So there were fairly big differences between them and the anti-authoritarians.
Anyway, after an interesting week of discussions and gigs up to Thursday, the action started with a peaceful march in solidarity with illegal immigrants. This wasn't peaceful because of fluffiness or anything dodgy like that, it was peaceful because there were illegal immigrants on the march, and the march went straight through a working class area, so breaking stuff would have been counter productive. Even so, a peaceful Greek anarchist demonstration is not the same as a peaceful demo in the UK: here it means you walk from A to B and listen to some tossers with big egos at the end, while in Greece you walk from A to B, beat up journos, through a few rocks and bottles at the cops, spray graffitti on the route and break a few cash points. Even so, the cops didn't attack, and we managed to have an impressive several thousand strong anarchist presence on the streets of the city.
Thursday night consisted of planning for the demo on Friday. This would consist of going in coaches out to the Halkidiki peninsula to the small village of Neos Marmaras near the place where the summit was being held. From there we would march towards the summit until we reached the police, who we would then "hit with big sticks"! Some people also went to a secret workshop and made three boxes of paintbombs (as well as some piss and shit bombs, as a special treat for the cops). As the area we were going to was in a pine forest, the Anti-authoritarian Movement had promised to the residents (who specifically asked for the anarchists to come and not the Communists) that they wouldn't use fire, no molotovs were made... well, not for Friday!
On Friday we all had to get up early to get into fifteen coaches which were completely filled (and that was just the anarchists) for the hour and a half journey to Halkidiki. Amazingly we weren't stopped by the police on the way, although if we had been then we had arranged for all the coaches to stop and for that place to be treated as if it was the Red Zone, and as I was in the coach full of hard as nails Greeks this wasn't too much of a worry. After a march to the village and waiting around on the beach for the rally held by the villagers for all the trots and liberals to finish, we set off along a small road towards the Red Zone in a fairly tight block, most people armed with a nice thick flag pole, goggles and gas masks (although not enough people had these). On the way we could see the filth off to the side of the road, but resisted the temptation to attacking them there and then.
Finally we got to the bridge which the filth were protecting, but unfortunately the Ya Basta padded up types had got there before us, so before more than a few paintbombs could be thrown, the teargas started. This was my first experience of tear gas, but apparently this was stronger than anything that had ever been used in Greece before, and in fact had only ever been used in Palestine until then, so even the Greeks were suffering, which started a panic, not helped by there being people at the front without even a basic gas mask. It was nasty stuff like powder rather than just gas which burned the skin like sunburn, but once I wasn't being stampeded, as my gas mask and goggles were working fine it was actually quite fun, and if i hadn't been trying to film at the time, and could see without my glasses through steamed up goggles then I might have been able to throw a few more rocks with a bit more effect.
Anyway, the retreat soon slowed and we built a quick barricade in the road, before those not completely overcome by gas armed themselves with rocks and slingshots and moved to the frontline to hold back the cops. We succeeded in slowing them down a bit, but in the end they just overwhelmed us with teargas and charged forcing us to retreat back to the village, where there was more fighting on the beach. Due to the size of the road we were forced to stay in tight formation, which is probably why there were no more than eight arrests, which is pretty amazing considering the suicidal nature of the mission.
Once we'd recovered, Friday night was spent preparing for Saturday, which was to be a big demo in the city centre, and was expected to be a massive riot. There were big aguements in the Anti-authoritarian squat as to what the best tactic was: a big tight block going straight to the target of the US consulate or several smaller looser groups roaming around the city. The insurrectionists were also planning, both in their squat and also in the camp they'd set up elsewhere in the university. There were also rumours of several molotov factories at work all through the night, at least one making over a hundred proper ones with styrofoam which we capped like normal beer bottles with a rag tied round the top, rather than some of the dodgy homemade ones which had a tendancy to leak everywhere. There were also some beautiful big metal shields made with slogans such as "Behold Your Future Executioners" and "Anarcho-Thug Life 4 Eva" on, but these were unfortunately wasted the next day.
In case there was a repeat of the attack on the school in Genoa, me and some friends put all our bags and stuff we didn't need for the demo safe off the campus on Saturday morning. Then late in the afternoon, around four, the groups started to gather. Unfortunately, the insurrectionist types were the first to start gathering, so they appeared to be the biggest group, so most people thought it would be safer with them. This left the Anti-authoritarian Movement with much fewer people than expected and so they couldn't form a decent enough block. Naturally the shields went to the biggest group, but the insurrectionists refused to use them because of some macho attitude, and some of those who helped make them weren't strong enough to carry them, so they weren't used nearly as effectively as they could have been.
The march set off as probably the worst possible combination of the two prefered tactic, one big loose block, and immediately the nihilists started attacking stuff, such as those evil weapons of the capitalist oppressors, the traffic light and the street sign, and small family owned shops. Don't get me wrong, in some situations like building a barricade then anything will do, but this really was for no reason. And it wasn't as if there were no other targets. As we marched down the main street fireworks got fired at journalists on the roof, banks got attacked, and some other worthwhile targets, although whether this was a good idea is debatable, as at that stage it just slowed us down in getting to our primary target, and those things could have been done on the way back. And there was more stupidity as mollies were thrown at unbroken windows so people couldn't get near enough to break them, and shops were set on fire with little old ladies living above them, who were hardly the ultra-rich scumbags.
Still, there was some fun stuff, such as smashing up the Communist Party headquarters and McDonald's. In Greece the trots are fairly small, but the Commies are huge, and they're proper Stalinists who regularly beat up anarchists and hand them over to the filth, so it was great to see that getting trashed. But even with the ritual trashing of McDonald's it still wasn't brilliant, because the first person in the door was followed by three petrol bombs flyinf over his shoulder.
Around this time we seemed to run into the back of the liberals' demo, which was slowed us down even more, and suddenly there was a big crush. My goggles had fogged up again so I didn't know what was going on, but then I could smell teargas and the people in front of me started running, so I did as well, going up a side street, dodging burning barricades until we eventually came out on a big square above the Social Forum march. Here we slowed as the police weren't chasing and came back on to the main road, but by now we were mixed in with trots and liberals making fighting back harder as they got in the way. Again I had to run up a side street and this time I could actually see the pigs running behind me, but I managed to get away with a smaller group and to my disappointment I found myself at the Communists demo. The Commies had decided that in the absence of an official Red Zone in Thessaloniki itself, they would make their own, and as there were a lot of them and very few anarchos, as well as the danger of plain clothes coppers, I ditched my stick, gas mask and goggles and got my camera out (which I'd not used that day in case I got beaten up by nutty nihilists) and pretended to be a tourist.
For a while I wondered around wondering where my mate had gone until I ran into some other Anarchist Youth Network people, and together we went to a cafe, before going back to where we'd left our stuff. On the way we found a TV showing the riot, which was the first we saw of Simon of the Wombles getting nicked. The riot was pretty much over an hour after the demo had started, and we didn't find that much destruction apart from one burnt out mobile phone shop and a trail of bloody footprints. Having checked our stuff, we decided to try to return to the university, and found we could walk straight passed lines of riot police without them doing anything. We ended up going through the trot camp to get to the anarchists, where I found my mate and learned what had happened to the rest of the demo.
Basically it had been a straight forward ambush, and after I'd left the main demo they'd managed to retreat to the uni where they fought a pitched battle with the filth until they were allowed back in. A couple of undercover cops and a couple of journalists were beaten up and held captive, and there was a bit of a paranoid atmosphere as no one knew if the campus would be attacked or not. In the end we decided to leave, and despite the campus being completely surrounded by police we just walked straight through the without a problem, although it was quite odd as there were police all along the road outside the place we were staying.
The next day there was a solidarity demo, but due to disorganisation we missed it, but we learned later that it was attacked by the police. So in the end it had been a bit of a disappointment, with 80 people arrested in total, although all but 8 were released by the following week. Those remaining could all face up to 25 years in prison, and include Simon Chapman of the Wombles, who had several bags of molotov cocktails planted on him (there is video evidence of this).
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who da funk!
από 24p0sdfn -8ear=-Q 6:46μμ, Δευτέρα 20 Σεπτεμβρίου 2004
SO a little clash of 10-15 masked people with sticks -who were beated by the cops and hit back 2-3 cops, some fell and all went back - in front of the square in which there is the building of the us embassy (7th floor) is an attack of 500 against the embassy, hm........
I would like to know your opinion on drugs dude!