The uprising in Greece has completed it’s 10th day and moved into the 11th, with student protester’s launching a bold petrol bomb attack against the Athens “Riot Police Headquarters” (the fact that such a building exists maybe tells you some of the background of how we got here).  Elsewhere in the city and in other parts of the country, radio stations and television studios have recently become commonly targeted by protesters, who raid and occupy the buildings and usually get a few minutes of airtime before the signal is cut from remote locations.  Yesterday, one such television station take-over saw protester’s interrupt a broadcast of the Prime Minister addressing Parliament to get their message across State TV’s airwaves: “Stop watching TV and get out into the streets” was their banner.

 

Protesters on-air while briefly occupying a TV station.  The main banner reads Stop watching, get out onto the streets

Protesters on-air while briefly occupying a TV station. The main banner reads "Stop watching, get out onto the streets"

A handful of great photo-essays of the riots from the past week and a half is over at InfoShop.org, along with continuing updates and coverage.  Here’s a smatering of them though:

As far as that last photo goes, it’s a bit of a mystery to me too.  Reports have been coming through that in the past day or two protester’s have been using “laser beams” on the police….?  As best I can figure, these are harmless “pointer lasers” like you’d maybe use in an office presentation, probably being used for no reason other than to entirely scare the shit out of the cops.  Certainly looks like something straight out of a sci fi movie though.

Interestingly enough, while I’ve spoken about the unique Greek culture surrounding youth-oriented riots and property destruction, and the long-running antagonisms between the student-based radical movement in Greece and the police (and the fact that these riots were ignited by the police killing of a 16-year old, apparently during quite common harassment of students in the university district well-known as a radical enclave), what I have yet to touch upon is the fact that everyday, all over the world, students, leftists, immigrants, the working poor, and people of color face the harassment, oppression, and brutality of police forces.  Police harasment is so commonplace in our lives that we don’t often even think much of it. While the events currently unfolding in Greece are primarily being led by students, radicals, and immigrants, and I’ve spoken several times before about the relative insurrectionist potential of various elements of society (specifically here in the U.S.), the emotional stress and trauma of being under continual police harassment should not be over-looked.  

Which brings me to Augusta, Georgia, where a small riot broke-out yesterday in a housing project following the police murder of a 23-year old man.  Detractors who have internalized the logic of the State and who’s own (conscious or non) racism will be quick to note the police version of events: that this man was pulled over for being suspected of driving a stolen vehicle, and that he resisted the officer’s on the scene, allegedly attempting to run one of them over.  All of which may be entirely factual (if guilty innocent until proven innocent guilty were still the rule of law, we may be able to answer this question) (that was an appropriate Freudian slip on my part, no?), and none of which gets to the real heart of the matter.  The fact is that living in a housing project means by definition a degree of extreme poverty, social isolation, dis-empowerment, and victimhood.  Struggling every moment of your life to survive under conditions of such poverty means literally every day is a battle for life or death and often means turning to illegal behavior to afford housing, food, and clothes.  Tensions between this involuntary lifestyle and police- the violent enforcers of the capitalist system- are always running high because a desperation like extreme poverty can afflict you right down to the soul- right to the very essence of your being.  Arguments aside about if the cops felt personally “threatened” by this young man and his behavior, about whether or not the legal system would deem his murder as “justified”, the reaction by family, friends, and community members who had gathered to hold a candle light vigil to pray for his survival are not surprising and touch a bit upon the rage being expressed in Greece.  When news hit the vigil that the man had passed away in the hospital, frustration and anger at their plight rose to the surface and about 100 people took to the streets to express their hurt and pain.  Coincidentally, the police had gathered around the vigil well before any signs of violence or law-breaking; in fact, at least 90 police officers and State troopers were on the scene to “monitor” the vigil, so they were well prepared (and in riot gear) when word of the man’s death and the subsequent chaos turned out.

And as the social stress of the economic “crisis” (I always put that “crisis” in quotation marks, because the very nature of capitalist economics is a predictable march towards self-destruction; what logical people could see coming hardly seems to me to be a “crisis” as much as a stupid fucking idea- exponential growth in a finite world? gimme a break) intensifies, not only should we expect that we will see these sort of violent flare-ups in the inner cities and ghettos will occur more commonly- as the personal stresses of everyday survival become increasingly un-tenable- but the same fears, frustrations, and anger will affect, in it’s own relative but nonetheless real and relevant manner, the working classes.  Increased desperation will likely be met by increased boldness, because when there’s little or nothing to lose we’re prepared to start throwing shoes at our captors.

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