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Posts Tagged ‘police repression’

News from Athens…

In Athens on 24 February 2012 at 11:24

Dear people,

Comrade Getafe has arrived in Athens. Yesterday he sent his first comunicado about the situation on the ground. I bring it to you in translation. Spanish original down below…

***

17/2

I arrived with a French girl friend of mine in Syntagma Square. We had made an appointment with two friends of ours, but a row of police officers blocked the way. We wait nearby. We see some kids challenging the police, hurling insults and a lonesome stone. The police provokes them with insults as well, with obscene gestures and a few rapid charges. They look like two neighbourhood gangs fighting over a girl or a football match. In the meantime, people keep walking by, even with small children. It all seems normal.

Our friends take too long to arrive, so we decide to go straight to the house of the mother of a Greek friend. While she stuffs us with food, she says she doesn’t agree with the people who were burning buildings the other day. She feels very sorry for her country. She says many people only survive thanks to the solidarity of others. Her brother is a doctor, but he doesn’t work because people don’t even have the money to get sick. Sometimes they give him fruits or vegetables in exchange for his visit. She herself had a private medical insurance, because she works as a freelance translator, but because of the crisis she can no longer afford it. Once in a while she thinks of what would happen if she got really sick. But she prefers to live by the day.

Later on our two friends appeared, the ones we had been expecting. They had in fact been waiting for us, but two cops simply arrested them for being out on the street. While searching them, they found an anarchist book in one of their backpacks, and they took them to the police station. They weren’t treated very well.

Sunday there will be another demonstration, they tell us. A Greek girl says that
she is tired of demonstrations. She asks us what’s happening in Spain. She says the Greeks think that there are really interesting things going on in Spain. It’s the same thing the Spanish think about Greece, we say. We laugh. But she doesn’t join in. It seems she’s somewhat frustrated. Let’s see what happens tomorrow …

18/2

While some protesters throw oranges at the police, my friend from France walks up to one of them and starts to talk. The officer says that he supports the claims of the demonstrators. Not all of his collegues do, but he does.

“So will you let me pass by to go to parliament?” my friend asks.

“No, not yet. Only when you are many more. Then I might come along with you.”

My friend returns saying that if we are the 99%, then the police are part of that figure. Someone else says it’s better to be the 80%. She excludes the police and calls them fascists. I say that makes her a fascist herself because she is excluding the 1%.

“Very well,” she says, “we are all one. The 100%”

“That’s nonsense,” I say. “Whom are we fighting against then?”

“Against ourselves,” she answers.
I have a feeling the discussion is getting a bit out of hand. And ten minutes later a police officer grabs my friend, takes her camcorder, and with very bad manners he orders her to cancel all the images. Moments later she returns, smiling, but pissed off.

We joke with her. “How was your friend doing? Is he also part of the 100%?”

“No. Now we are 99.99999999%.”
And counting down, I think. But I keep quiet.

20/2

Today we talked with a Greek girl. She told us that there were four types of people presents among the ones who burned banks and looted shops last Sunday:

1) The desperate. Those who saw the perfect opportunity to get food and other products for free (my French friend claims that among them there are many frustrated consumers).

2) The anarchists. They burn banks as a symbolic action, and because it makes them suffer economic losses.

3) Football hooligans. They love the physical confrontation, they don’t care against whom. It gives them something to do if there’s no game this weekend…

4) The infiltrators, professional provocateurs paid by the government.

I wonder if what happened was useful. She responds that people are scared that the military uses the caos as an excuse to impose their order. And that indeed there are many people who only like to destroy, without any strong political motivation at all.
But there’s nothing they can do to them. And on the other hand, she says that she doesn’t want to go to all the demonstrations any more, because it seems that many people just want to return to life before the crisis. They want all the budget cuts to be cancelled, just that. While she herself wants a real change. Later on she shows us the clubs and the fire extinguishers with which to defend us in case the social centre where we’re taking a coffee is attacked. And after making a few phone calls, she confirms that she will help us find a roof. More specifically, the roof of an abandoned house, where we will move to live as from tomorrow.

22/02

I don’t like to write in third person. I think the police knows. So today I’ve been arrested. I was walking calmly through the street when two policemen stepped off their motor bike and halted me by grabbing on to my backpack. They order me to open it, and so I do. They ask me my passport, and I give it to them. They ask me a thousand questions and I answered them all. In my time, that would have sufficed. But no, they handcough me and throw me into a car. I ask why.

“For your own safety,” they tell me, “it’s not an arrest.”

It really bears the likes of it though. From the car they throw me into a van, which is already loaded with ten other people. I ask again: “Why?” And their only answer is: “Later!”

At the entrance of the police station they take my data. I sit down in the chair next to the table.

“Stand up!” they shout.

I ask once again if anyone can explain to me why I am here.

“Upstairs!” they shout. I’m taken up to the 11th floor, where they copy my data again. They give me a paper and ask for my father’s name and my mother’s name, because those are not written in my passport.

“Okay,” I say, “if someone can explain to me what’s happening here, I’ll write them down for you.”

They don’t like it. You can see them hesitating between dealing me a blow and giving me a rapid answer just to make me shut up.

In the end they call another police officer, who explains to me that they are simply ‘checking’ some data.

“Check what?” I ask, “if I have already shown you my passport on the streets?”

“Your political opinions,” they finally admit. Just like that.

“And what about my zodiac sign?” I ask them pointing at the computer screen. “Do you have that written down there as well?”

I don’t know if he understood. Another cop shouts to me to write down my data once and for all. In the end I do. Badly, but I do. Both me and my parents we have combined names. I mix them up in any way, and they take me to a waiting room filled with about twenty people. Some of them look worried. Others bored, angry, resigned.

“Spain!” a police officer yells, “what are you writing there?” I told him before that I’m a journalist. Usually I say I work as a waiter, but this time I really wanted to say it.

“My diary. I’m bored.”

The officer sits down, his mouth wide open. ‘It’s really funny,’ I want to say to him. ‘If you like, I’ll show it to you.’ But it doesn’t seem a good idea.

In the smoking room I see how someone tears a bottle of whisky from his bag pack and starts offering little shots from the tap. The police can’t see him, because he is in a dead angle. I decide to join them. I drink, and I say yes to everything, even though I can’t understand them.

The hours pass, and the police keep bringing in more and more people. In the end we are fifty-six. Fifty-five men and a woman. Finally they call us out one by one, they give us back our passports and they let us go.

Now what? Should I assume that this is normal, and that when I go out to buy bread tomorrow, I will spend another four hours in the police station for having done nothing? Should I start throwing molotov cocktails to feel integrated and at least have a good reason for being arrested? Should I call the embassy and lose I do not know how many hours to be told that there’s nothing they can do for me? If only all of this would have happened in Cuba, then I’m sure that El Pais would have thrown it onto the front page.

By Pepe ‘Getafe’.

Translation yours truly.

***
17/2

Llegamos, una amiga francesa y yo, a la Plaza Syntagma. Hemos quedado
con dos amigos, pero una fila de policía nos impide el paso. Esperamos
cerca de allí. Vemos como unos chavales se enfrentan a ellos, con
muchos insultos y alguna piedra que otra. La policía les provoca, con
gestos, con insultos, con algunas cargas rápidas. Parecen dos
pandillas de barrio enfrentándose por una chica o por un partido de
fútbol. Mientras, la gente sigue paseando por allí, incluso con sus
hijos pequeños. Todo parece de lo más natural. Como nuestros amigos
tardan demasiado, decidimos ir directamente a la casa de la madre de
una amiga griega. Mientras nos abarrota de comida, nos cuenta que no
está de acuerdo con que quemaran edificios el otro día. Pero esta muy
triste por su país. Dice que mucha gente vive gracias a la solidaridad
de los demás. Que su hermano, que es médico, no trabaja casi porque la
gente no tiene dinero ni para ponerse enferma. Que a veces le dan
frutas u hortalizas a cambio de su visita. Y que ella misma tenía un
seguro privado médico, porque es traductora freelance, pero debido a
la crisis, ya no lo puede pagar. Y a veces piensa que pasará si se
pone de verdad enferma. Pero prefiere vivir día a día. Después han
aparecido por la casa nuestros dos amigos, los que nos debían haber
esperado. De hecho, nos esperaron un rato, pero unos policías les
arrestaron sólo por estar allí. En el cacheo, le encontraron a uno de
ellos un libro anarquista en la mochila, y les han llevado esposados a
comisaría. No les han tratado demasiado bien. Nos cuentan que el
domingo hay otra manifestación. Después, una chica griega nos dirá que
están cansados de manifestaciones. Nos pregunta por lo que esta
ocurriendo en España. Nos dice que los griegos piensan que en España
sí que están pasando cosas interesantes. Lo mismo piensan allí de
Grecia, decimos nosotros. Nos reímos. Ella no tanto, la verdad. Parece
un tanto frustrada. A ver qué pasa mañana…

18/2

Mientras algunos manifestantes tiran naranjas a la policía, mi amiga
francesa se acerca a hablar con uno de ellos. Este le dice que está de
acuerdo con las reivindicaciones, que no todos sus compañeros lo
están, pero que él sí ¿Me dejas pasar entonces al parlamento? le
pregunta ella. No, todavía no. Pero cuando seais muchos mas, igual
entro yo tambien con vosotros.

Mi amiga vuelve diciendo que si somos el 99%, los policías también
entran en ese porcentaje. Otro dice que, entonces, mejor somos el 80%;
ella, que porqué los excluye, y le llama fascista. Yo le digo que
entonces ella también es una fascista porque está excluyendo a un 1%.
Vale, dice,  pues todos somos uno: el 100 %. Pero eso es un coñazo,
digo, ¿contra quién luchamos entonces? Contra nosotros mismos, dice. Y
a mí me parece que la discusión se nos ha ido un poco de las manos. El
caso es que diez minutos después le agarra un policía, le quita la
videocámara y le dice, de muy malos modos, que lo borre todo. Y ella
vuelve, sonriente, pero enfadada.
¿Qué tal con tu amigo?, ¿era también del 100%?, le picamos.

-No. Ahora somos el 99,99999999%.

Y bajando, pienso. Pero me callo.

20/2

Hoy hemos hablado con una chica griega. Nos ha dicho que, entre los
que quemaron bancos y saquearon tiendas el domingo pasado, había
cuatro tipos de personas:

1) Los desesperados, los que vieron la oportunidad perfecta para
conseguir comida y otros productos gratis (mi amiga francesa alega
que, entre ellos, hay muchos consumistas frustrados).

2) Los anarquistas, que queman bancos, como algo simbólico, y para que
así tengan pérdidas económicas.

3) Los hooligans de equipos de fútbol, a los que les encanta el
enfrentamiento físico, les da igual contra quien, y si ese fin de
semana, no hay partido…

4) Los infiltrados, los provocadores pagados por el Gobierno.

Le pregunto si lo que sucedió fue útil. Me responde que, por un lado,
tienen miedo a que los militares pongan como excusa el caos para
imponer su orden. Y que, efectivamente, hay muchos a los que solo les
gusta destruir, sin una motivación política sólida que los respalde.
Pero que qué le van a hacer. También me dice que, a muchas
manifestaciones, ella no va porque parece que mucha gente solo quiere
volver a la vida de antes de la crisis, que se paralicen los recortes,
solo eso. Y ella quiere un cambio más profundo. Después, nos enseña
los palos y los extintores con los que defenderse en caso de un ataque
al centro social donde estamos tomando café. Y tras hacer unas
llamadas, nos confirma que nos va a ayudar a encontrar un techo. Más
concretamente, el techo de una casa abandonada, en la que vamos a
entrar a vivir mañana.

22/02

No me gusta escribir en tercera persona. Creo que la policía lo sabe.
Por eso, hoy me han arrestado. Iba caminando tranquilamente por la
calle, cuando dos policías se han bajado de su moto y me han parado
cogiéndome de la mochila. Me han dicho que la abra y la he abierto. Me
han pedido el pasaporte y se lo he dado. Me han hecho mil preguntas y
las he contestado todas. Eso, en mis tiempos, era matrícula de honor.
Pero no. Me han puesto las esposas, y me han arrojado dentro de un
coche. He preguntado ¿porqué? Por tu seguridad, me han dicho, no es
una detención. Pero se le parece tanto… Me han sacado del coche y me
han metido en una furgoneta, donde había unas diez personas más. He
vuelto a preguntar: ¿porqué? Y su única respuesta ha sido: ¡después!

En la puerta de la comisaría, me toman los datos, y yo me siento en la
silla de al lado. ¡Levántate!, me gritan. Pregunto otra vez si alguien
me puede explicar porqué estoy aquí. ¡Arriba!, me dicen. Subo al 11º
piso, y me vuelven a apuntar los datos. Ma dan un papel y me dicen que
apunte cual es mi apellido y cual es mi nombre, cómo se llama mi padre
y cómo se llama mi madre, ya que en mi pasaporte no se entiende bien.
Les digo: Ok,  alguien me explica qué pasa aquí, y entonces yo lo
escribo. No les gusta. Creo que dudan entre pegarme una ostia o
contestarme algo rápido para que me calle. Al final, llaman a otro
policía, y este me cuenta que solo estoy aquí para que puedan
“chequear” mis datos. ¿Chequear qué?, le pregunto, si ya les he
enseñado el pasaporte en la calle. Tu pensamientos político, me
suelta. Con dos cojones. ¿Y mi signo del zodíaco?, ¿también lo tienes
ahí?, le digo señalando el ordenador. No sé si me ha entendido. El
otro me grita que escriba de una vez mis datos.  Lo hago. Mal, pero lo
hago. Tanto mis padres, como yo, tenemos nombres y apellidos
compuestos. Los combino de cualquier forma, y me llevan a una sala de
espera, donde ya hay unas veinte personas. Los hay preocupados,
aburridos, rabiosos, resignados…

¡Spain! me grita un policía ahora, ¿qué estás escribiendo? Antes le
dije que era periodista. Suelo decir que soy camarero, pero esta vez
me apetecía decirlo. Mi diario, le respondo, estoy aburrido. Asiente y
se queda con la boca abierta. Me dan ganas de decirle: es divertido,
si quieres te enseño. Pero igual no es buena idea. En la sala de
fumadores, veo como alguien saca una botella de whisky de su mochila,
y reparte chupitos con la tapa. La policía no puede verlos, ya que
están en una especie de ángulo muerto. Decido unirme a ellos. Bebo, y
me hablan, yo les digo a todo que sí, aunque no entiendo nada. Pasan
las horas y van trayendo cada vez más gente. Llegamos a ser cincuenta
y seis: cincuenta y cinco hombres, y una mujer. Finalmente, nos van
llamando, nos devuelven los pasaportes, y nos dejan salir.

¿Y ahora qué?  ¿Asumo que esto es normal, que mañana igual voy a
comprar el pan y me tiro otras cuatro horas en comisaría por no hacer
nada? ¿Me pongo a tirar cócteles molotov para sentirme integrado, y al
menos que me detengan por algo? ¿Llamo a la embajada y pierdo no sé
cuantas horas más para que me digan que no pueden hacer nada? Si al
menos me hubiera sucedido en Cuba, “El País” me hubiera sacado en
portada.

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In the Sandpit

In France, March on Brussels, Paris on 23 September 2011 at 22:37

St. Denis, September 23

Day 60 of the March on Brussels. Reassembly.

Acampada St. Denis

Dear people,

We are camped on the grounds of an old hospital that has been squatted. There’s a plateau and a structure in wood and there’s a big sandpit in the middle. It’s almost like camping on the beach.

Today was a resting day. This morning the eleven comrades who were still under arrest have all been released. The indignados that went to support them outside the tribunal were encircled by police the moment they came out of the underground. They were escorted to the other side of the river to await the liberation of our comrades.

The only real thing the detenidos were accused of was breaking a window of the police van. I don’t know the details of what happened, but I think it’s unlikely that eleven people premeditated an act of destruction and coldbloodedly executed it all together. And even if they did, it’s not the kind of infringement for which you can put someone under arrest.

Difusion in St. Denis

Propaganda point in front of town hall

They will have to show up again at the end of October, but the important thing is that they are free to come with us. Also Jesus Christ is back, he was lost last night when we moved to St. Denis. We didn’t worry too much about him though, because we know he will find his way. The only one who has not yet rejoined us is comrade Poirot. He is in hospital due to asthma problems, but he will soon be out.

So now we are reunited in our squatting resort along the canal. The relief is big. We finally have an opportunity to catch up on some sleep. I think it has been the first real intermezzo  of relaxation in many weeks. Also for me. I switch from the real game of preparing and executing actions in Paris to the imaginative reality of building a castle in the sand, together with comrade Juliette, la Parisienne.

Life is fun, one way or the other.

Building a castle with comrade Juliette. Photo by Perro.

At the end of the day, internal assembly in the sandpit. For tomorrow a meeting of the neighbourhoods is organised here. This is one of the zones that was set on fire during the revolt of the banlieues in 2005. It might be a fertile ground to gain support for a peaceful insurrection.

News keeps coming through of actions all over the planet. In Barcelona people have been protesting outside the French consulate for three days in a row. In Los Angeles there are demonstrations out of solidarity with the people arrested in Paris. And in Paris we stand by our brothers who were arrested in New York at OccupyWallStreet.

We are a global movement, and we stand united against injustice. We will not tolerate violence or intimidation from the authorities. Not here, nor anywhere else. That is our message these days. If you touch one of us, wherever on this planet, you touch us all.

Internal Assembly in the sandpit

Prisoners of Peace

In France, March on Brussels, Paris on 22 September 2011 at 22:25

St. Denis, September 22

Day 59 of the March on Brussels. From Paris, 8 km

Paris 22S, indignados waking up in front of the Stock Exchange

Dear people,

After we slept there, we occupied the square of the Stock Exchange for most of the day. We put up signs, we wrote slogans in chalk and we held an internal assembly under the watchful eye of massive police presence. The bus which has taken us away twice already was right around the corner.

It was a great day, especially because there was an event in the stock exchange which attracted many suits and ties. It was priceless to see them parading by the signs accusing the financial system and inviting the people to rise up, while our colourful bunch was holding an assembly.

Internal Assembly at Place de la Bourse

Looking back on these days we made great progress. When we arrived we walked straight into a police ambush at the Bastille and had to retreat to the Marne in the early morning. In subsequent days we went on a crazy march through the city, we occupied Bercy, and finally we conquered the Stock Exchange. But the repression has been exhausting for many people, both physically and mentally.

Today, the police would not let us leave the square to walk to St. Denis in group. Some of us managed to break the barrier in small numbers. I walked alone.

When I left the city of Paris, it was like I could breath again. I was back in the real world, with real people of all races and ages leading real lives. The pressure from the authorities on everything different seemed to have lifted.

"If the people would understand the banking system, I think there would be a revolution before the day is over." Henry Ford.

But that was all imagination. In St. Denis there are half a dozen of police present in civilian outfit. As long as we are in the greater Paris area, the police will not leave us alone. They will continue their repression and their intimidation.

Today it turned out that not all the detenidos have been freed. On the contrary. Eleven of them are still in custody. They are almost exclusively French, they are charged with damaging or degrading public property (the police bus), and resistance to arrest. But rumours are also going around that they are accused of ‘terrorism’.

It’s a dirty tactic by the authorities. They catch the French in our movement, and they fry them a couple of days to dissuade other indignés to speak up or to act. We are cooperating with a local lawyer and we have created a working group to have them liberated as soon as possible. This will prolongue our presence in the Paris area even more. Saturday a peaceful concentration has been called for to protest against police repression. Every day that passes, our daily marches to Brussels will grow longer and longer.

'Paris, rise up!'