On Tuesday morning Athens’ only squatted gym was evicted and demolished with a bulldozer. Fortunately nobody was hurt or arrested. The demolition carried on until Wednesday, when the workers were still present at the site while riot police was on alert and protecting the area.
The gym, located on Strefi Hill in Athens’ neighbourhood Exarchia was occupied last December, after the abandoned building was left empty for 10 years. The squat served as a popular self managed gym, mostly providing martial arts training, but also Latin dance and yoga classes. In addition, it was a space for political debates, especially on the issue of prisoner support and prison system as a whole.
According to the crew running the buliding, its aim was to create a “fair and anti-commercial space”, where people can organise, hold discussions, work out and gain fighting skills (full text, in Greek, here).
Following the eviction, a number of people made their way from Athens Polytechnic to Strefi Hill to show solidarity with the space and the crew running it, and in protest against gentrification of Athens and Greece’s ruling party Syriza. This lead to some clashes with the police who resorted to using tear gas, however, the demonstration managed to hold ground for considerable time before moving back to the Polytechnic on its own accord.
This wasn’t the end of solidarity actions with the evicted gym. On Wednesday last week, when the work on the demolition site was still ongoing, the Municipality of Athens has organised a concert at the nearby basketball court. The activists, outraged with the fact that the concert takes place a day after a popular local self organised space gets demolished headed to the gig place and successfully stopped it from happening, telling the organisers that they need to leave because their event is “hostile to any struggle for self organisation and free public spaces”.