The neighbourhood of Exarchia (Greece) has a radical, revolutionary, anarchist political background with continuous struggles, solidarity places to welcome and protect the refugees and migrants, squats, political assemblies and social centres.
Back in 1973, Athens Polytechnic uprising began by the students against the military junta. The students decided to show their rejection to this regime with massive demonstrations. Students, citizens and workers became one and rebelled against the dictatorship. The students ended up inside the Polytechnic school and occupied the place. The tanks entered the place by crashing the gates on November 17. Many students and residents got injured, or died around the area. Years later, during the annual 17 November protests, young people continued getting murdered by the state. Iakovos Koumis and Stamatina Kanellopoulou were the victims of police brutality in 1980 and the 15 year old Michalis Kaltezas was shot dead by a cop in 1985. The Polytechnic university, which is located in the area of Exarchia, was a factor for the neighbourhood to acquire the political features that it has until today.
Until a few years ago, Polytechnic university was a place of resistance, freedom and expression.
The police brutality against a 15 year old student was repeated on December 6 of 2008. This time the target was Alexis Grigoropoulos who was hanging out with his friends in Exarchia. Two cops drew their guns on the kids and one of the cops murdered Alexis in cold blood.
Alexis’ murder was the spark that turned the anger into a fire and burnt the whole city. The riots started immediately and the centre of Athens became a war zone. The uprising lasted for weeks and was the biggest that took place in Greece, after 1973. “These days belong to Alexis” was written all over the city. Soon, the whole country was protesting for Alexis.
The “Black December” started spreading everywhere.