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Greece in flames and a London blockade

December 9th, 2008 · post by Edd · 1 Comment

On the night of December 6th, Greek police shot 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in cold blood in the Eksarhia district of Athens. Since that night, Athens and tens of other Greek cities have been burning. In London a solidarity demonstration was called for Monday, 8th December, to blockade the Greek Embassy.

Banner hung outside the Greek embassy in London explaining about the death of Alexandros
The banner hung outside the Greek embassy

I arrived at Hyde Park at around 9.30am to see a small number of other protesters. The group soon moved off onto the tube to the Greek Embassy in Holland Park, west London. Another group had already arrived at the embassy before though. The group was occupying the entrance to the embassy, whilst shouting into the Embassy’s intercom demanding to see the ambassador. After a red and black anarchist flag had been hoisted up the embassy’s flag pole the first group of diplomatic police arrived. They received jeers and angry faces from everyone present.

Tussle as people tried to get onto balcony
Tussle as people tried to get onto balcony

Soon after the police appeared the second group, who had originally met up in Hyde Park, arrived. There were brief tussles as people tried to get up to the balcony to stand alongside their friends. A few managed to make it up, but most were pushed back by the police. People continued to arrive, taking the total to around 70 protesters. Those occupying the balcony burnt the Greek flag to huge cheers.

Burning of the Greek flag< Greek flag being set on fire
Little happened for the following hour, there were the odds shouts of ‘fuck the police’ and other radical chants (both in English and Greek). At around 11 though the dynamic  of the demonstration changed. Holland Park road was cordoned off and people were stopped from coming into the area by the police; at the same time more members of the Forward Intelligence Team (FIT), the Metropolitan Police’s surveillance unit, and members of TSG, the ‘riot police’, arrived. It wasn’t long before the police started pushing anyone who wasn’t on the balcony up the road away from the embassy.

The people who were pushed up the road were held in a police corral, whilst the FIT filmed and photographed participants both on and off the balcony. Half an hour later metal barriers arrived, as they were being placed the police appeared to randomly provoke a situation and arrested two people. According to an eye-witness one of these arrestees was punched in the face whilst being handcuffed.

People being pushed away from the embassy
People being pushed away from the embassy

They then proceeded to assault two independent journalists in the mêlée apparently grabbing their cameras before bundling them out of the cordon. I was then escorted out of the area (though not before an obligatory ‘identity check’ because there had been a ‘criminal offence’ committed earlier in the day), as a result I have a limited knowledge of what continued at the embassy though a later report (http://london.indymedia.org.uk/articles/372) states that, “At 3pm the last blockaders agreed to leave after negotiating not to be searched for weapons, while marching away from the embassy with their banner, they were then attacked by the police. One or two more arrests were made and police were randomly pushing people around. Again police also attacked the press.”

Two arrests were made as the police formed the cordon
The two arrests at the cordon (note the fact the police arrest was so heavy handed one of those arrested has managed to have his shoes pulled off!)

Dispatches from Greece

In related news our friends at Occupied London magazine have established a blog to translate reports from Greek in English to allow English speaking anti-authoritarians an oppurtunity to remain up to date with the ongoing situation in Greece. The blog is at, http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/, and was launched with the statement, “The updates will be irregular and as frequent as permitted, given the circumstances. The updates will be mostly text-based. Confirmed reports will be presented as such – and so will rumours. We are not journalists and we are not objective; we chose sides in the social war a while ago.”

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