On Dec. 20th at 7am, riot cops in full gear showed up with three police buses and spent the next several hours gathering up items from inside the Villa Amalias squat in central Athens. They arrested 8 people, two of whom are German visitors. The squat has been in operation since March of 1990 and has been evicted in the past but the space has always been reclaimed. The most recent eviction attempt, in 2000, ended in a legal victory for Villa Amalias, as the court held that the squatters had the right to occupy the building, since they were using it for purposes furthering the public good. The presumed title holder -- the municipality -- had left it abandoned for decades.
Villa Amalias is well known not only for the many concerts and other community events held at the space, but also for its antifascist work. Situated in a neighborhood with a large immigrant population and bordering on an area where the neonazi Golden Dawn political party (now represented in the Greek Parliament) is very active, in anarchist and leftist political circles the squat is widely recognized as a major reason that the neonazis have not been able to expand their influence into that neighborhood.
According to police, the raid and eviction of the squat was undertaken after an anonymous tip that there was drug trafficking taking place out of the building. The cops did not turn up large quantities of drugs or piles of cash but only a small quantity of marijuana. According to the daily newspaper Kathimerini, known for its sources in the prime minister's office, the raid had been planned for some time, as part of a general offensive against all occupied spaces.
Among the items found in the squat, according to police reports. were over 1200 empty beer bottles and a container of flammable liquid; thus, the Amalias 8 are facing felony charges having to do with possessing materials to make incendiary devices (molotovs). The squat has concerts which regularly draw over a thousand people, as well as open meal nights with... big surprise, beer. The flammable liquid turns out to be heating oil used for the oil heater on the premises. The police posted a video of their tour of the inside of the building, including the controversial beer bottles; you can view it here.
The raid came at the direct order of the prime minister, as announced by his minister of public order. From the first hours of the raid, people gathered near Villa Amalias in solidarity, maintaining a steady presence throughout the day. In the evening, over a thousand people held an impromptu march to the building. The following day hundreds gathered at the courthouse in solidarity with the arrestees, where they were not allowed to enter. Since then there have been solidarity statements and actions all over Greece.
On Monday Dec. 24th the 8 arrestees are scheduled for a court appearance at which we will learn more about which charges will be prosecuted and what the bail conditions will be. Of course no drug trafficking charges are on the list. Riot cops maintain a continuous presence near the squat.
Solidarity with all occupations! Drop all charges against the Amalias 8!