Athens. Greece. On the 20th of July 2021, during a public and open movie screening on the rooftop of squat Zizania, we saw the police on the street below carrying out another of their racist and discriminatory checks on drug users in Fylis. When we confronted them with slogans from the rooftop, they started harassing by pointing flashlights and shouting at us. Some comrades spontaneously threw one empty bottle and a stone which landed on the street. This action came from people whose anger boiled over from the daily racist violence they see and experience from the Greek police; people who can no longer watch passively while another person is harassed because the police considers them a lesser human.
Originally published by Athens. Indymedia.
In order to reverse the roles and to divert the attention from their constant oppression the police is carrying out in the neighborhood of Victoria and other neighborhoods in the center of Athens, the police in cooperation with mainstream newspapers, manipulated the incident and framed it as a planned ambush from our social center. They claim that we placed a fake phone call to the cops (the articles have contradictions, with one saying there was a call due to drug dealing and the other says the call was about a woman being beaten) and after they arrived we attacked them with bottles and stones, resulting in the injury of two cops. None of this is true. In reality, we were watching a movie on the rooftop, and the operation of the police was at least the 4th of its kind on Fylis on this day.
We see the cops manipulation of this incident as a justification for repression against Zizania and other people in the streets of Viktoria. Since opening a few months ago comrades from Zizania have experienced harassment from the police, who try to catch comrades in the streets who move around outside the building. This includes ID checks and apprehensions. Yet, the level of harassment that white comrades experience is incomparable to the daily harassment, abuse and racist violence non-white comrades experience. It is no surprise that in that moment on the roof last week, comrades responded in the way they did.
A broken bottle and a stone is nothing in comparison to the constant violence that the police carry out against marginalized people in Viktoria every hour of the day.
We support this action, this expression of anger, because we fed up, that cannot bare anymore this everyday oppression.
Below are testimonies from comrades of Zizania.
Walking home one evening on Fylis with some friends. Two black jeeps drive by us very fast. I hardly throw my body on the side not to get hit. Four OPKE rush out of the cars, they pointed their machine guns at me and pushed me up against a car. First thing they ask me: where are you from? Turkey. Not the right answer… their response? Hitting me with an elbow in my side. They emptied my bag in the street and treated me like a piece of shit. They don’t like my friends and treat them like shit too but they are white enough so they don’t check their ID all the time and empty their bag in the street. After being harassed for half an hour I am allowed to “get the fuck out of here and go home”. Just another evening….
Everyday people who are distinguished by the color of their skin are stopped by the police. Their racist practice is to stop and check these people as suspects for drug dealing. Why if a black person appears the first thing they do is to put him in the position of a drug suspect? Because of racism. They control people in the street according to whether they look like migrants or not. In Greece, a country which is part of the EU, the authorities act racist to us in every moment of our lives. We have to change this situation.
I am stopped by the police at least once a week. I am treated like a criminal although so far I have not been charged with anything ‘criminal’. In the last incident, I asked the police, who searched us and our bags, why they did this. They threw my bag and ID on the floor and left. Another time, they said that they only had to do an identity check at the police station and took me to the police station in reverse handcuffs. At the police station, I witnessed physical and psychological violence against other refugees by the police.
They use the excuse of drug investigation, to check us, harass us, steal our belongings, even if they never find any drugs. People of this neighborhood are permanently scared. When a cop passes by we remember everything we have been through. Recently, one day a friend was sitting on a bench and he was attacked by the police because of his color. The Greek police planted drugs on him and they arrested him. Now he has to go to the police station every 15 days to sign in with the police. Now he cannot take the travel document and leave Greece. They have stopped his life.
Another guy was stopped in Exarchia by cops looking for drugs. When they didn’t find any drugs on him, they asked for his papers. Because he didn’t have papers the cops took him to the police station in Exarchia. He was kept there, in the basement, without natural light, exercise and access to the outdoors for two weeks. Now he is caged in Amagdeleza, fighting to get out.
I remember that morning sometime ago, I was going to work and I got lost. The police stopped me and checked me while I was trying to find my way. They asked me for my ID which I gave them. When I showed them photos of my documents on my smartphone they took it from me and started going through my pictures. When they found photos of demos and anarchist banners they immediately threw me into the police car and took me to the police station without any explanation. At the station they kept asking me for my ID even though I had already given it to them, when I told them that they already had it they called me a liar, malaka and other insults. They took all of my belongings, my smart phone, my work tools and they put in a cell.
After some days there one night they put in a car and transferred me to the police station of Kavala, in northern Greece near the Evros border. I asked for a lawyer and no one helped me. The situation there was like this: people entering the border to Greece are then caught by the police. They are beaten, assaulted and then caged in prison cells. The condition in these cells was very unhealthy and the food was too little. The night when the cell became full of migrants special commando police in full faces and full body armor forced us onto a boat and pushed it onto the Evros river, the border, and back to Turkey.
How these people return to Greece, after being stolen, caged, tortured and forced to abandon their homes? They come back on foot, by walking and walking, passing again the borders. For me this passage took seven days.I fucked the border.
Squatted social center Zizania