George Kalaitzides, member of the Occupied Social Centre Vox
In the early morning hours of the 27th of February, around 3:30 am, I sat at Exarcheia square for a few minutes with two other comrades from the Occupied Social Centre Vox… There were three other people, whom we did not know, sitting right across from us. At some point a girl walked by, also a stranger to us, and one of the three men made sexist comments towards her. We immediately confronted him and he initially seemed to retract and said ”ok, ok…”. As we were leaving I flicked the hat off his head and the three got up and started verbal insults. Within a few seconds they drew knives and one of them attempted to stab me on the side. At the last moment a comrade came between me and him and risked being stabbed in order to save me. At the same time the one with the knife attempted to stab the other comrade on the head and again the same comrade who had saved me intervened by pulling him back. The friends of the murderer hit the third comrade on the head with the initial contribution of 1-2 Albanians, which, as soon as they realised my presence and who were actually involved in this situation, turned against the attacker with the knife by throwing a stone on his head. The three attackers escaped via Valtetsiou street.
WHO IS THE MAIN PERPETRTOR OF THE ATTACK
The person who came close to becoming a murderer is an Egyptian male with the pseudonym ”Habibi” who deals drugs at the square on a daily basis. He is very notorious around the area, since he has stabbed around 20 people. He is also the perpetrator of the assault against a girl who initiated a discussion about this issue on Athens Indymedia. He had previously threatened someone who asked for a cigarette with a knife. We are talking about an insane drug dealer, a danger for the public who openly slaughters people. The other two were obviously his partners in the drug trade. While this text is written the perpetrators are nowhere to be found.
As a first reaction, the following day around 200 comrades evacuated the square from the swarms of individuals with anti-social behaviour who flooded there.
This incident is one of the hundreds of similar cases that have taken place at the square in the last few years. Many people have been victims of assault, only now coincidentally it was us who were targeted. In other cases when victims are relatively unknown and do not have wide social circles nobody notices these attacks. It is obvious that if you belong to a pack and people know who you are, an assault can be answered or people could run for help. In contrast, if nobody knows who you are, you ‘ll die like a dog and become part of a bloody statistic while the next day life will go on as usual for the rest of the people and both the incident and the victim will be forgotten. In this case if I was not recognized by bystanders and had they not acted in a supportive manner the three of us would have been dead by now, like the poor guy who was stabbed with a pair of scissors a few months ago.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CURRENT SITUATION
There are many causal factors that contributed to the creation of this tragic picture. I would like to point out three main issues:
1. The greek police tolerates this situation that is placed within the context of a diachronic and systemic plan to subordinate and turn the historic neighbourhood of Exarchia into a ghetto. Ofcourse the political bosses have also contributed to this plan through the years. Who could forget back when cops would send dealers and drug users at the square after having located them in different areas of the city centre? The organized network of drug dealers enjoys the tolerance of the authorities since this tolerance serves the communicational strategy of the police and the state regarding promotion of state-created narratives such as the ”Exarchia ghetto” and the ”gangsters, drugs and violence”. Exarchia is being portrayed as a Mad Max type of ghetto instead of a place of social struggle, resistance and counter-information. Besides tolerance there is also co-operation of the police with the mafia since it is widely known that the local police department makes money from the circles of organized crime.
2. The anarchists. All of us who managed to remove the mechanisms of state repression from the area with our continuous struggle, failed to prevent the establishment of mafia and anti-social elements. Many took advantage of the connotations of anarchism for their own benefit and used them as an excuse to create profitable businesses and exhibit anti-social behaviours.
3.The buyers: the scores of people, the hundreds of youths who buy drugs from Habibi and every other dealer on a daily basis merely support a naive culture of individualist pseudo-liberation and ”revolutionary emancipation” by lighting a spliff. Demand is always met with offer. When many ”outsiders” that belong to ”anarchist circles” buy drugs from murderers then this leads to their legimization and permanence in the area with the blessing of an alternative culture that reinforces the narrative created by state officials.
A HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
We have always tried to carry through a struggle against both fronts: the mafia and the police. This was achieved through the creation of the ”Assembly against social cannibalism” a few years ago and even before that with the ”Assembly of collectives, individuals and groups from Exarchia” and recently with the Occupied Social Centre Vox. We attacked the mafia, we found stashes of drugs and guns inside of cars, we raided drug warehouses, the squat was attacked with gunshots and we managed to remove drug dalers from certain areas such as Themistokleous street. The result? When things got bad there were threats against our lives (as we stated in an article on athens indymedia) and many people left. Very few of us remained and a part of anarchist circles called us bullies and ”narcotics squad” and we were dragged to the investigator for… abductions of drug dealers. On the same day I was at the office of the investigator with other comrades for the infamous ”abduction” and armed intevention against the mafia following an anonymous phone call that tipped them off, the customers were again out on the streets buying at night. So they helped every insane drug dealer like Habibi to find a place at the square and at the same time added to the narrative of the area as a ghetto…
What can we say? We are bullies, ”narcotics squad” and we do have a very big flaw: we hate burrying our head in the sand and we see ourselves as responsible, along with the state and the police, for the deconstruction of the historic neighbourhood. We admit to our own mistakes. To some comrades this is unforgiveable and that is when you are labeled ”syriza affiliated” within a day. I hope we recover from this.
P.S. 1 The square is full of security which keeps looking at the squat. It is a matter of time until we are dragged again to the investigator in case any episodes erupt, while the murderers enjoy a drink at the local police department.
P.S.2 To those who have threatened us with war after Saturday night and to those who happily expect our failure, we answer with a quote by Plato: ”Ony the dead see the end of the war”.