A few info on the riots in Keratea ~ Act for Freedom
May be modified or updated as new information arrives
Part 1: Arcade Fires
“Tha mas fate to mouti” (we’ll make you eat our shit)
Keratea is a town of 16.000 residents, situated in eastern Attica, 40km from Athens, near Lavrion. The site has an ancient history that has left many remains, an amphitheater, parts of the ancient fortification… As many villages in Attica, it has also a strong arbanitic tradition, that highlights values such as extended family solidarity and social cohesion, against a usually alienated authority, as well as a sense of pride and putting head to a cause. Most residents are small farmers (wine, olives etc), workers and/or unemployed, retired. During the last decade, after the construction of the international airpot at Spata (2001), and also Lavrion and Rafina ports development to unburdain Piraeus’ heavy traffic, eastern Attica suffered a sort of gentrification with Athens recreational, turistic and construction firms moving eastern (this mouvement can be tracked by almost annual forest fires, taking care of what’s left of Attica’s “unexploited” space). Ofcourse, infrastructure and any kind of social services (even proper sewage systems) remain significantly unadequate. The suggested creation of a huge open dump would be the top of the iceberg -or the mountain of garbage- to the complete subjugation of the territory and the people to private profit, as a dangerous and typically illegal “solution” to the garbage disposal problem of all Attica is proclaimed against the will of those that will have to suffer it, and once they make clear their disagreement, they are violently repressed. No time for the old days’ “negotiations” in the socialist government’s “fast track” capitalism. The issue of dump constractions and garbage disposal in general has given birth to diverse militant struggles held in different parts of Greece these last years, with most significant the ones in Grammatiko (northern Attica), Neraida-Serres, Varnavas, Naxos island, Karvounari, Elliniko-Ioannina, and ofcourse Leukimmi, Corfu, where a small village manages to block the construction works and confront the police by all means for 3 years now, having one woman dead to the police violence, and many facing charges.
“We are Arbanites here, right? We ‘ll take care of this on our own, they don’t get it. It’s gonna take an army to stop us, the riot cops are no match for us“. -A local resident to “Eleutherotypia” newspaper.
The residents are argueing that creating an open dump (a large hole where all garbage is simply burried, a practice even the EU officialy condemns) in Keratea is a major environmental crime threatening the residents health and well-being, as well as the nearby archaeological sites (Ovriokastro, submitted for UNESCO protected historical monuments and sites), the Mouzaki stream as well as underground waters and minerals. Its construction serves only certain private interests, while even a state jury has decided it should be outlawed. Instead of that, the state has responded to the residents challenge with heavy repression and media slander (Since most mass-media are typically bankrupt, they are now totally dependent on state funds and publications to survive, not to mention the “normal” state-media-contractors capitalist complex).
11/12: 4:30 am: More than 700 cops (riot cops, plain clothes ruffians, special forces) taking place inside the archaeological site and private properties, fields of the locals to scare them off. After a few hours, they decide to leave, once the district attorney suggests the work is typically illegal. On their way out, they managed to set a few fires (photo: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_fJ81Ao4zT9M/TQO3l0r46hI/AAAAAAAABhc/zJthzmQKZJU/s1600/DSC00171.JPG) on the mountain and destroy the community’s festival site, as well as to harass elder people, women and schoolkids… Photos from athens.indymedia.org: http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1235536
12/12: 5 arrestees at Lavrion, for a street blockade in solidarity. Hundreds of people in the blockade, force the cops to retreat (photo: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_J4i5JXPz8p0/TQT3mYrl5tI/AAAAAAAAABY/vkn-LK5Sj-8/s320/P1050675.JPG). The riot cops are outrageous. Extensive, massive use of molotov cocktails by the residents. journalists speaking of “groups from Athens coming to Keratea for the riots” kicked out of the blockade by residents. Another journalist gets beaten by the cops. Video from the day’s clashes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTEZmG_zGko&feature=related
The minister of interior mr. Ragkouses, announces through the media that it is not about an open dump but a processed garbage disposal center (though the work’s permit clearly states it is an open dump), and that its purpose is to help with the area’s garbage (though the area produces around 350 tonnes of garbage a year and the dump is planned to hold 127.000 tonnes a year: They plan to turn Keratea-Lavrio into the garbage dump of the whole Attica). The residents had filed a plan to self-manage through their communities recycling etc the garbage of the whole Lavrion area, but while the government initialy accepted it, then declined it: apparently it is better to sub-contract the work to some of their contraction business mates and turn it into a money-dump. During the night, street lights are off where the residents stand and only work on the cops’ side. The helicopter is still on.
13/12: The local students occupy/shut down their school and join their families and friends in the blockades. (photo: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_fJ81Ao4zT9M/TQaJYl9cDLI/AAAAAAAABi0/X5UQQ8z6hB4/s1600/162723_1783871840831_1360531010_2911131_4376699_n.jpg) Also anarchists and people of the movement gather from all over Athens. All day clashes with the cops. Massive use of molotov cocktails of local production. Urban guerilla by hundreds of small, friendly groups attacking the police forces and retreating to the village. A police bus set on fire. Many cops injured. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SfTd6DG6eE&feature=player_embedded & http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1236364. Photos from athens.indymedia.org: http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1236662 & http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1236686
Hundreds of people in the blockades. 6 arrestees after the riot police attacks, 4 of them severely beaten, supported by a police helicopter tracking down the residents on their way back. A riot police brigade targeted, surrounded and beated the mayor of Keratea (photo: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_fJ81Ao4zT9M/TQTf_evu46I/AAAAAAAABhs/Vx3YJSlnSRI/s320/P1050690.JPG). The cops only back up so that people and medics can take him once he’s beaten senseless on the ground. During the morning, the district attorney decided the work had to be temporarily stopped, but instead of ordering the police to do so, as it would be expected according to their laws, he handled the decision over, as a suggestion, to the police and the work contractor, claiming he need to get a political aprovement from the government! The media continue to slander the residents resistance as backwards and reactionary, claiming they “merely want the garbage to gather in some other town” while praising the work that would end the illegal status of 96 (a fictituous number repeated by many mass-media parrots) illegal dumps around western Attica. Athens district attorney Elene Raikou orders a police investigation on the “attempted murder” against police officers by resistant residents of Keratea, as use of firearms was reported by the cops.
“We inform you that all citizens are in the streets against the riot police and we are at war!” -message from the town hall’s phone machine.
14/12: More than 50 people injured up to now. 2.000 riot cops mobilized in Keratea, according to the Panattican network of urban movements. The police helicopter uses a thermal camera to spot smaller groups attacking the police lines from the sides, during the night. A riot cop brigade is sent to arrest them, turns out it was a herd of sheep. Around 300 residents and solidarians remain at the blockades during the night. Cops take over the nearby fields. In their attacks, the cops yell “run, the junta is here!”. Later on the same day, the police union publish a complaint to the minister of environment, claiming they are made into boxing sacks for “irrational” reasons. Daily report from occupied london blog: http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2010/12/14/444-third-day-of-rioting-in-keratea-attica-against-waste-burial-site-construction-sees-riot-police-van-and-policeman-set-alight-court-orders-temporary-halt-to-the-works-greece-counts-hours-to-it/
Report from contrainfo site: http://en.contrainfo.espiv.net/2010/12/13/keratea-atticagreece-no-more-trash-in-our-lives-residents-against-landfill-constructions/
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bOd-fiXT_w&feature=player_embedded. First use of a water canon in Greece, since the military junta of 1967-74: http://antixyta.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post_7714.html
“We ‘re now heading towards the end of our lives, don’t make us go back to the battlefields in times of peace” -from the call of senior citizens of Keratea to the prime minister.
15/12: General strike throughout Greece, clashes in Athens and major cities. The police attack Keratea during the night. More than 1.500 residents and solidarians (Mainly people from the movement and also youth). 2 residents arrested and much more beaten. 3 taken to a hospital. The police chased down people inside the olive tree fields. Second night of water canon use.
“Late at night a group of elders sit around and wonder: where are the anarchists to help us? -There in Athens grandpa, but they’ll come. Someone reassured them. It might be a myth born through the residents’ mobilizations. But dozens of residents affirm that a group of local women, of an advanced age, complained to the mayor and the city council, that they are running out of molotovs” -from an “Eleutherotypia” newspaper report
Quick note: no matter how “truth” such a journalistic report is (a fact is that portraying anarchists as specialists of violence is a tactic many medias used to alienate the residents from their own militancy and from authentic solidarity, even if here this tactic is repeated from a sympathetic view, the fact is that the use of militant tactics -molotovs, hit ‘n’ run, attacking and retreating/dispersing, combination of offensive and lawful tactics etc involving virtually the whole community, is applied in a unprecedent (with the possible exception of Leukimmi) social level.
16/12: Larissa jury certifies the dump construction in Keratea is illegal and need to stop all works. The residents celebrate with a feast at the blockade. Daily report from occupied london blog: http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2010/12/16/453-residents-of-keratea-attica-continue-their-struggle-with-riot-police-against-the-construction-of-a-landfill-for-a-sixth-consecutive-day/ Photos from athens.indymedia.org: http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1239001
17/12: Early in the morning, policemen vandalise the local community vehicles, on the pretext of them being used in the blockades. The police also took over a community first aid office, causing damages to the space and taking fingerprints. On their way back, they burnt down the schoolkids christmas tree. Heavy police forces around the blockades, asking passerbyers to show their IDs and allowing only neighborhood residents to pass (http://antixyta.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post_1991.html). Photos: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__rfxHwNHuSM/TQuhhgYHrrI/AAAAAAAAAJI/jQOKxQPM9Jc/s1600/keratea_xyta.jpg
“The heroic resistance of the residents of Keratea, Lavrion and solidarians from all other places give the proper answer to all recipients. If they consider everything is for sale, we reply that a people’s dignity is not for sale” -from Lavrion anarchists/antiauthoritarians call.
18/12: Riot police and residents face to face at the blockade. Clashes errupt. The pigs are forced to retreat to Ovriokastro. the pigs beat to bleeding an elder resident. He appears shocked in a video: “Oh you guys, help me heal now and then we take the arms and show them” (http://antixyta.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post_1747.html)
The municipal council of nearby Kalyvia, together with many politicians (from Socialdemocratic SYN to neofascist LAOS) announces its support to Keratea residents struggle, and asks for the creation of a local committe to play an intermediate role.
Edit: an interesting post at athens.indymedia.org [link]: from “μπουρλοτιερης καναρης“ (privateer Kanaris): Around 100 solidarians from Athens and 50 from Keratea and nearby regions. 2-3 good offensives. Many cops injured. We made them come after us to the open area until their chemicals (lacrymogens etc) ended and when they were stopping we attacked them with lots of cocktails. It was there when they got hurt. Their chemicals didn’t do the work, because we were in an open space with an opposite wind. 2 of them also tried to hide in the field but we rummaged them out of their holes. Also 4-5 plain clothes were pelting us with rock behind the cops. Apparently plain cloth policemen. Some said it could be invertebrates (fascists) because they heard them chanting for “golden dawn” (a para-state neonazi organization). In any case, during our offensives they hid aback, as always.
19/12: Unprovoked police attack, one 65 year old woman and a girl beaten to the ground. The residents gather again and chase the cops, 2 arrests. Negotiations to let them free. Popular assembly in the main town square. The mayor and the town’s priest announce their support to the struggle… Note: When the priest gives a speach, the residents applaud his call to continue the struggle, but when he calls for peace and non-violence “so that everyone (residents and police) can spend christmas at their homes”, many residents boo in disapproval, some yell “we are at home”, and he is forced to stop. Daily report at occupied london blog: http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2010/12/19/keratea-struggle-continues/
20/12: Gathering in solidarity in front of Athens jury, where the prosecuted residents will be presented Monday morning.
Photos: from the official community’s page: http://www.keratea.gr/dimos/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=483&Itemid=1 & http://www.keratea.gr/dimos/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=472&Itemid=1 From “for Keratea” blog: http://forkeratea.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post_3550.html “XYTA (open dump) means resistance” blog: http://xytasimaineiantistasi.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post_7843.html
Map of the blockade: http://athens.indymedia.org/local/webcast/uploads/untitled-1drdoel.jpg
Part 2: The development of the struggle
23/12: Huge solidarity concert at the blockades.
26/12: Local residents set a nazi flag on fire to provoke the police occupation of their town by the modern democracy. Video: http://forkeratea.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post_886.html
28/12: Lavrion workers’ center and the blockade of Lavrion denounce the union of municipalities of Attica that promotes the outsourcing of garbage management to private companies.
29/12: Official court resolution ordering police forces to move out of Keratea and cease all works. Municipal party and awards to the town’s freshmen students organized at the blockades.
30/12: Anarchist solidarity demonstration at Propylaia, central Athens.
31/12: PASOK (ruling party) secretary of Keratea leaves his position, as a side effect of the struggle’s pressure.
1/1: Hundreds of residents pass new year’s eve at the blockades, chanting and burning effigies of government official Th. Pangalos.
5/1: Night of tension on Lavrion Avenue. Street clashes, wide use of tear gas.
6/1: According to the religious tradition in Greece a day (Epiphany) to bless the waters and rivers, and the residents are eager to hold this ritual on a little stream just behind the police lines at the blockade, so they move there, with the priest, the town officials etc, asking the cops to respect the event and retreat. Many chant anti-police and anti-state slogans against the dump. Minor confrontations lead to a police offensive beating many residents and vandalizing most participants’ cars. Photoes-Video: http://forkeratea.blogspot.com/2011/01/blog-post_7173.html
Hundreds of local residents attack the police station and the Traffic Police department with molotovs and stones, after finding out that local policemen helped the anti-riot and undercover cops break and vandalize their cars at the blockade a few hours earlier. At least 50 locals’ cars were damaged, while tickets for “illegal parking” and removal of plates targeted the cars used at the blockades. The plates were taken back during the residents’ “visit” to the Traffic Police station, where the cops were locked in one room, tickets destroyed and police offices re-decorated.Three undercover police cars were turned upside down, when according to the police “the residents didn’t harm any civilian’s car, as they were apparently aware of which cars parked nearby belong to the police”.
Many residents were called to the local State Security in reference to their whereabouts during that night.
7/1: Local youth starts flaming blockades (using car tires) and attacks the riot-police with molotovs.
9/1: Residents and medics organize a voluntary blood donation at the blockade. During the night, (23:30) more than 700 local residents attack the riot-police around the blockades at Lavrion Avenue with molotovs and stones, and are repelled with tear gas and water-cannon. Street battles last for two hours.
According to the president of the local municipal workers’ union: “The force upon us solutions that have been surpassed in Europe. The don’t care to plan a total management of garbage, with selection from the source, recycling, but only want to dig another dump. Garbage is a commodity for the work contractors, that see profit at our own expense. No, we are not willing to take this”.
10/1: Police occupation of major streets around and inside Keratea. The residents speak of uncontrolled police violence that only by chance hasn’t cause any fatalities yet. The police during their offensives regularly vandalise residents’ cars and properties.
12/1: A joyous night at the blockade, with music and talks. Photoes-Video: http://forkeratea.blogspot.com/2011/01/blog-post_12.html
13/1: Another night of tension. Molotov cocktails and stones, police use of tear gas and water-cannon. No arrests.
15/1: A group of 40 locals climbed the mountain to reach the dump construction area and sabotage the equipment and works, while the police guards of the company’s property were having a little party. When they went after the cops, one of them pulled out his firearm and pointed it at a local’s head. The local man dared the policeman to “shoot if you have the guts, and take a look aroung you, what’s going to happen to you next”, so the cops retreated.
16/1: A solidarity demonstration from Keratea’s townhall is organized by many left-wing organizations and parties.
Videos: Police violence in Lavrion-Keratea (65′): http://forkeratea.blogspot.com/2011/01/police-violence-in-lavrion-greece.html