The 6th of December, 2008

The Athens district of Exarchia is a hangout for artists, students and junkies and traditionally the refuge of the various counter-culture movements in the last three decades. Interestingly, it's also the place with a minimum of violent crimes against person and property downtown (except against policemen). In contrast with many European cities or the USA, no one carries a gun and even knives are extremely uncommon (not even junk dealers use them). Surrounding this area are universities, museums, the main commercial district and government buildings.
During the last years the conflicts between the cops and locals have escalated. People occasionally throw rocks at passing police cars; then an hour later dozens of fully-armed squads troop the bars and cafes, gather as many people as they like as 'suspects' and put them behind bars for a process called 'identification', which gives them the right to hold you in a police station all night to 'check your criminal record' until the officer in charge comes in the morning to release you (or charge you with something). During all these hours they have the right to 'search physically' (=undress and humiliate) everyone, looking for 'guns', drugs or whatnot. Of course, 99.9% of the people there go in Exarchia for recreation or work, mostly naive students and rock fans that like to get away from the expensive bars and poser 'cool' places in the nearby areas. Things are coming to a head, as a wise man used to say.
It's Saturday night, about 9.00 PM and people are gathering around the local cafes. Just a few minutes before , a police car went by and some people (it's not sure who they were) swear and threw a couple of stones at them. The cops park the car a little further on and try to drag into the 'conflict' a SWAT squad. When they fail, they return to the place they were 'attacked' and verbally provoke a small group of kids to fight with them, giving them the finger and shouting insults in front of dozens of witnesses. When the kids fail to respond in a 'suitable' way (that is to throw some things or make a move towards them so they can have an excuse), the cops take their guns out, one of them throws a sound bomb and the other aims and shoots three times towards them, the last bullet hitting one of the group in the chest. Having their job done, they calmly walk away and mingle with the SWAT squad mentioned before a few yards away. The boy shot is dead on the spot, his friends in shock. As a direct result, minutes after the 'incident' riots break up in all major Greek cities (yes, news like that travel really fast). Police stations, banks and (unfortunately) cars and stores are attacked, often totally destroyed. The city is in turmoil since, roads blocked all over, schools closed, universities occupied (they provide asylum, no policeman may enter their premises), streets destroyed.

The cops claim the group initially attacked them with clubs and stones, even with Molotov cocktails ready, so they had to fire warning shots. As is usual in these cases, one of them hit something (the asphalt ground...) and ricocheted towards the direction of the kid. The Ministry of Internal Affairs cover them up and press releases are sent to the BBC (and other networks). This is a report written after it became widely known and indisputable that the cops killed the kid in cold blood. It still focuses on the riots. Thankfully, others check their sources better.
Bad luck for them; it was a 15 years old kid from a good family out with his friends they shot. Not a military radical, not a drug user that no one will care for. Just a fucking kid, 15 years old. And with many witnesses in line of sight, as well as an (indistinct) video, showing the cops calmly leaving the scene after they're done (check here, upper right corner).

Some photos and reports from Sky here: (*, *, *).

A lot of people die because of police brutality. Police has always been a serpent's nest, a haven for fascists, psychopaths, or the spiritually deficient but physically gifted. And lots of people died, were injured or humiliated because a freak happens to own a uniform and has the power to fuck with the lives of his/hers fellow citizens. It's not something new, a lot of cases are recorded where cops shoot and kill people, then never get fittingly prosecuted and punished. Yet I didn't sleep well these nights. Most of the people around me walk in silent shock and cannot really believe what happened. It could be their fucking kid dead that night. I can believe what's happening, yet it cripples me in a emotional level so deep that I'm constantly ready to break in tears. Don't believe what you read, we don't live in a Democracy. It's a Police State. It's a war and we are the side casualties. Fuck my house and fuck my couch and fuck this shit.


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