Greece: Riot police ambush in Exarcheia goes after its migrant presence

The attack follows a recent attempted re-occupation of the zone’s evicted Dervenia 56 centre (pictured) by anarchist militants and a brutal assault which saw hundreds of arrests at a rally on Friday.

According to an Indymedia Athens report posted on July 5th:

“On Saturday July 4th, at around midnight, riot police appeared in Victoria Square (a spot north-west of Exarcheia which has been at the heart of clashes over migrant rights) in order to transfer the migrants living there to the Amygdaleza detention centre. The excuse was that the square offered insufficient and unhealthy living conditions. After the migrants’ refusal to leave and the interventions of solidarians who had gathered, the cops violently attempted to take people into the police transportation vans. They took approximately 10 people, some of whom were immediately released, the transportation van left while other police vans remained in front of the OTE building.

After a while, as the migrants had calmed down a bit and as the solidarians were starting to leave, riot police appeared from all sides of the square and attacked everyone, holding more than 20 people they randomly found on the nearby streets, hitting and dragging them to the vans.

At the same time, additional forces of riot police entered the square, hit the people there and tried to send them away towards the 3rd Septemvriou and Patission Street, as their plan was to fully evacuate the square. The migrants left, injured, without their belongings and scattered around the city centre. Twenty-two people have been taken into custody in the police station of Kypseli. Among them there is one person with a dislocated shoulder and a woman separated from her children, who remained in the square.

At the time of writing, migrants have returned to the square while the streets towards the police station of Kypseli are blocked by police motorcycles.”

A day prior to the raid another clash took place when police in riot gear attacked a rally, apparently picking up “hundreds of people by truck”. A report and video released today noted:

“Cops shot flash grenades at people’s legs and arms, bloodying shop customers in Exarcheia, Themistocleous, Koletti and Messolonghi. They threw suffocating gas grenades into bars full of people, stormed other bars, beat up free workers and patrons, smashed shops inside and out, threw chairs and tables into the street.

But in the midst of this chaos caused by the Greek police, there was solidarity and resistance. Residents who opened the doors of apartment buildings and their homes to provide shelter from the rage of the uniforms. People who came out on their balconies and on the street, standing tall and blocking the barbarians’ march – and this characterization is not an exaggeration of what the employees of Mitsotakis, Chrysochoidis and Bakoyannis did on Friday night in Exarcheia. But whatever they do, in this neighbourhood everything comes back to it. Resistance, self-organization, solidarity. For many, many decades now.”

The area has been under siege since the election of the right-wing New Democracy government in 2019, which has seen multiple assaults on the anarchist and migrant-dominated Exarcheia neighbourhood, including the recent eviction of a squatted centre established in 2016 at Dervenion Street.