Society on Lockdown: An Interview with a Greek Anarchist on the State Weaponizing COVID-19 Measures
In this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we speak with an anarchist living in the Exarcheia neighborhood of Greece, which has long been a center of autonomous organizing and resistance. For more background on the Greek anarchist movement, the Exarcheia neighborhood, and the coming to power of New Democracy, a right-wing Greek political party, which has vowed to cleanse Exarcheia of anarchists, squatters, and refugees, go here.
Greek police terrorize common citizens in #ΝεαΣμυρνη, Athens, an authoritarian practice that was normalized during the coronavirus pandemic. Police brutality in Greece cannot be tolerated anymore… #ποναω pic.twitter.com/YReEvwIy9N
— Panos Iordanidis (@PanosIordan) March 8, 2021
During our discussion, we talk about how the new government has implemented a set of lockdown measures in the face of the coronavirus, that requires people to get permission from the police to leave there homes. As in many other countries, this has lead to a build up of police forces, while the medical system is pushed to capacity. A common refrain under lockdown has become: “Police everywhere, ICU’s nowhere.”
From a report on CrimethInc.:
The lockdowns have also been militarized, especially in the poorer regions to the west of Athens and in the treatment of Roma communities across the country. Soldiers in armored vehicles enforce intensive lockdowns in these regions characterized by poverty, migrant labor, and Roma populations. It is no coincidence that the rebellious neighborhood of Exarchia and Roma communities outside the center of Athens are targeted with especially strict lockdowns, while in wealthy suburbs and neighborhoods like Athens’ Colonaki, groups gather outside coffee shops, people move freely without fear of being detained, and upscale business owners use a loophole intended for essential workers to make papers that permit their friends to hang out with them in bars and restaurants that are open for take away. It is truly dystopian when a boss’s signature is the next best justification for being out after curfew to a dog that needs walking.
Police gather in groups without masks; they stop nighttime medical and delivery workers out of sheer boredom, fingering their papers, searching them, spreading the virus in the name of prevention. If this isn’t enough entertainment, they turn to abusing homeless people. Even Politico, a corporate media source, has begun to cover the police abuse and political opportunism New Democracy has introduced during the pandemic.
This new reality has been coupled with attempts by the State to clamp down on demonstrations; everything from anarchist days of militant street action to attacks on student demonstrations and the eviction of squats housing refugees.
— Demetrios Ioannou (@ioannou_dim) March 8, 2021
In the weeks after this podcast was completed, the streets of Greece has seen intense clashes explode, both in response to the State’s attempts to push the movement off the streets, and also in solidarity with a hunger-strike by political prisoner Dimitris Koufontinas.
#Athens #ΝεαΣμυρνη: Well over 10,000 people turned out for the demo against police violence in the #NeaSmyrni district, some report as many as 20,000. This is how resistance works during the curfew. #antireport video: @human_wannabe_pic.twitter.com/Q1TJFLoxUz
— Enough 14 (@enough14) March 9, 2021
We hope that this discussion shines a light on the ways in which the State is using the Coronavirus pandemic as a vehicle to increase repression and engage in counter-insurgency, beyond and outside of the shallow “culture war” we are used to in the US.