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Exarcheia turned into a battleground following the State’s decision to destroy its historic square [Athens]

Video from the protest and the riot that followed on Saturday 24 September 2022 in Exarcheia, (Athens, Greece) against the State’s decision to destroy the historic Exarcheia Square under the excuse of constructing a metro station on top of it. This was the 3d big protest against the metso on Exarcheia Square since August 2022. In the first one approximately 1.000 people took part, in the 2nd more than 2.000 and in this 3d one approximately 4.500 protesters. Following this big protest in the streets of Exarcheia in downtown Athens, riots broke out.

Originally published by Perseus999.

How it started (through the words of the Open Assembly No Metro Station on Exarchia Square):

“It was a hot, mid-summer night in central Athens. The city was silent and residents on holidays. Shops were closed. It was at that time, on 9 August 2022 at 4:30am, that the Greek State launched an unprecedented attack on one of Athens’ iconic spaces, Exarchia square. Hundreds of police flooded the streets around the square to impose the construction of an unpopular metro station and repress the citizens’ reactions against it. They have been there ever since; so have the people of Exarchia.

On the day of the operation, more than a thousand people took to the otherwise empty, summer Athenian streets to march in protest and solidarity with Exarchia. Hundreds have joined the open assemblies. Local businesses have submitted a restraining order against the (public) construction company. Dozens meet every day at 6 a.m. opposite to heavily armed police forces. Intellectuals, academics and artists have argued en masse against the project and the government’s authoritarian practices.

Exarchia square is a breathing space for residents, children, workers, visitors – a small square breaking the concrete monotony of central Athens. It is the home of fighting youth, radical ideas, students, artists and intellectuals. It is hard to find any newcomer, excluded or marginalised, any Athenian youth that has not socialised, flirted, chatted over a casual beer or coffee with peers, any visitor that has not attended cultural activities or taken refuge from the hot Athenian sun under the shadows of the square’s trees.

Exarchia square is an international symbol of resistance and political ferment. It is characterised by class solidarity, self-organisation, antiracism, coexistence and respect for different people, driven by the dream of a world of equality and justice. Over time, it has been a reference point for LGBTQI+ struggles and a safe space for all oppressed, persecuted or marginalised identities.

ALL THIS IS CURRENTLY ON THE LINE due to the obsession of a government to proceed with a project rejected by the people and to use our square, the square of all people, as a trophy and a milestone in its exclusivist agenda.

The design of the proposed metro station will destroy one of the few public spaces in the centre of Athens and the only square in the neighbourhood. In the midst of a climate crisis, 70 mature trees that are currently in the square will be sacrificed to create escalators and concrete ventilation boxes, turning our breathing space into an urban desert. Dust, noise and heavy traffic will further aggravate the daily life of our densely populated neighbourhood. It will precipitate the ongoing, uncontrolled increase of property values thus driving current renters and small businesses out and changing the character of the neighbourhood.

The construction of the metro station on Exarchia square is the jewel in the crown of violent gentrification and touristification of Athens city centre, which also includes:

1. Imposed “development” of the city centre and its transformation into a Tourist Hub, forcibly displacing present citizens.

2. Changing buildings that are part of the social fabric into museums

3. “Sterilisation” of public universities and institutions, strangling freedom of thought and activism

4. Demolition of public spaces and destruction of green areas

5. Increase of rents

6. Offering the nearby Strefi Hill to private interests

7. Conversion of the residential character of neighbourhoods into commercial zones.

Our petition aims to stop the construction of a metro station on Exarchia square on the grounds that it:

a. neglects the needs of our community;

b. undermines the quality of life offered to us and our children;

c. uses tax payers money to forward and ideological agenda and increase profits for private corporations;

d. normalises police brutality and repression.

Sign our petition at https://www.change.org/p/saving-the-historic-exarchia-square-our-neighbourhood-s-only-breathing-space?source_location=topic_page

– Help us stop their plans and resist the government’s authoritarianism and repression.

– Let’s demonstrate our numbers and the power of the many! – Hold out a hand of solidarity to a neighbourhood that has always been at the forefront of the struggle for life and dignity”.

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