ATHENS – Stepping up New Democracy’s plans to clean out the anarchist dominated neighborhood of Exarchia, the scene of frequent violence and used as a hideout for assaults, Greek riot police swept through early Aug. 26 to empty out buildings used by squatters.
There were no reports of trouble although the anarchist gang Rouvikonas had said it was going to be guarding abandoned buildings it had taken over and defied new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to go through with his vows to rid the area of them.
The four buildings targeted by police on Monday had been under occupation for a long time, according to the Athens-Macedonia news agency which said that the buildings are on Harilaou Trikoupi and Kallidromiou streets.
Police at the same time were going after drug dealers there in a continuation of a crackdown and going after the squats while the people who had been using them were away for the summer and with no immediate response from Rouvikonas.
The group had been allowed to run amok during the 4 ½-year reign of the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA which is riddled with anarchist and terrorist sympathizers and for whom Exarchia is a kind of soul base symbol for their alleged principles.
The new government also passed a law ending asylum on college campuses, with one in Exarchia and another nearby that has been used as hideouts by anarchists, criminals and drug dealers and students and professors under attack.
The Greek Police (ELAS) plan includes repeated sweeps of Exarchia to go after drug dealers, anarchists and squatters with the city having a Master Plan to clean up the area, remove graffiti, add lighting and trees and answer resident complaints about lawlessness.
In August, anti-narcotics officials and members of the crime prevention and suppression team (OPKE) carried out eight operations in Exarchia, stopping and searching hundreds of suspects and arresting 22 on charges related to illegal drugs and failure to produce valid residence documents.
“The operations will continue with the same or greater intensity, until the drug mafias operating in the area have been dismantled,” an unnamed official from the Citizens’ Protection Ministry told Kathimerini.
Reports said 23 buildings are being occupied by squatters who will be rousted and ousted despite Rouvikonas warning it would fight back as it has before with rocks, objects and Molotov Cocktails used on police. Twelve buildings are occupied by migrants.
A protest rally has been called for Sept. 14 outside the historic Athens University building on Panepistimiou Street, in a show of solidarity with the squatters but little resistance being shown so far.