Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Both Sides Now....

I have heard this before….seen it before.

This whole idea that there are two sides at fault in a riot….like there are two sides to the climate change debate, and two sides to the evolution “debate”......

It is easy to sound like a crazy alarmist what with actual Nazis appearing in our midst…..

I watched a lot of the video shot during the night and day in Charlottesville.  The righties seemed prepared, organized, dressed for the occasion and often armed.  There were a few anti-fa nutballs in helmets on the other side, but mostly it looked like students, moms and grandpas, and the usual mix of folks totally sincere about issues of which I have no clue.  Nice day; folks walking around the streets…..and wham!

I lived in Greece in the fall of 1973, working on Ios for no money.  We supported ourselves by taking the ferry to Athens once a month to sell our blood.  We had a fake cast we could put on alternate arms to hide the tracks so that we could  get double the money.  That meant giving up a liter, which will definitely make you woozy.

One day right after getting my cash I took the subway into the University part of town for some cheap food.  When I popped up, I was in the middle of a riot……and the subway closed down behind me.  The power was also shut off and the City got spooky very quickly in November dusk.

Greece was run by a military junta at the time: “The Colonels”.  Turns out the kids at the U had gone on strike a couple of days before my bloodletting.  Yawn.  Kids these days.  They made speeches, read poetry, yada yada.  They also made a little radio station out of stuff from the physics lab and started broadcasting.  And they had music, and pretty girls…..

Next thing you know, all the Greeks started to check it out.  Greece was pretty boring under the Colonels.  Young kids flocked in, and workers, and random families with kids.  Like Saturday in Chalottesville.

The Colonels finally got pissed.  On the afternoon of Day 2, just as I was coming out of the subway, they sent in troops.  The kids had barricaded the University with this and that, but when the troops came they switched to commandeering busses, and parked them across the major streets around the U, blocking the jeep traffic.  

No one could leave, because we were surrounded…. and the whole bus thing.  The streets were full of folks, and lots of the cafes were still open.  I ducked into one just before they closed the steel grate….and wound up drinking raki with some Trump fans for a scary hour before I snuck out the back.

So….tear gas.  Threats on loudspeakers.  Then the soldiers started to dismantle the bus barricades.  They would jump in one, fire it up and take off.  Since the kids had flattened the tires, the busses swerved all over the place when the cops punched it.  I saw a whole family get sideswiped by a careening bus and knocked down like bowling pins.  

Some provocateur had spread the rumor that burning tires counteracted the CS gas they were using (banned by the Geneva Convention by the way).  Choking smoke and gas everywhere.  Old codgers wheezing and dropping in the street.  Little kids crying with blistered faces.
I started doing basic first aid.  We got cloth napkins and waters from all the now abandoned cafes and started wiping people down and making crude gas masks.  I was too chicken shit to go near the busted up people laying in the street.

Then the shooting started, and armored personnel carriers started cutting off quadrants of blocks.  They had guys on the roofs with rifles, and the APC’s would come down a block firing tear gas anywhere they saw people.  When the people were flushed out, shots rang out.  (Supposedly it was rubber bullets, but they broke car windshields.)  Then squads of soldiers would sweep the block, shooing people and beating anyone who faltered.  I saw one guy get shot trying to run across the street from where I was hiding in a café.  He dropped when hit, and three cops were on him, beating the shit out of him with clubs until he was still.  Very still. We ran, and the bullets missed.

The gas rounds that the army were firing were about the size of a tennis ball can.  They would explode on impact, releasing the gas.  If one hit a lamp post it dented it.  One went right through the windshield of an old Volvo next to me….and continued out the back windshield before it hit another car and popped.  

By now most of the people around me were students, or at least young people….like you might find on Alvarado Street on any given Saturday.  We were trying to get away from the University and dodging the APC’s and soldiers as they tried to compress the perimeter.  And yes, I held up my passport at all times, shouting “American”.  That just seemed to draw fire.

At one point, a group of a dozen or so of us were surprised by an APC and some cops.  The APC’s turret turned and fired a round towards us.  I hit the girl next to me directly in the face, and she flew back and dropped like a sack of dog food. The cops charged, and we beat feet.

Luckily we were just on the outside of the riot by then and quickly found clean air and no people.  The railroad station wasn’t far so I hustled over.  It was all shut down, and was a staging area for the police and army.  There was a big line of tanks idling in front of the station, with soldiers milling around.  I found a chair at the outside café, covered myself up with tablecloths and tried to sleep off the gas and raki.

About three in the morning, the tanks fired up and trundled into the city.  A few minutes later, automatic weapons fire started.  I got the fuck out of there.  I wound up walking all the way to Piraeus.

Supposedly 24 people were killed.  I only saw a tiny part, and I saw at least ten killed myself.  You think an ambulance came for that girl?  She probably laid there for a day, dead or alive.  Fake news! The Colonels said that the police and army were just defending themselves from the violent Communist protestors.  Sound familiar?

I am not going to bother making any parallels.

All I can say is that when I saw the video of those random, happy, young and old people walking in the sunny streets of Charlottesville just before the car hit……it put me right back in Athens on 17 November 1973.

Don’t let this shit slide, people.

There are not two sides.


Blogger Wide Awake Ancestors said...

With the racist, fascist thugs in the White House, I can't wait.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Wide Awake Ancestors said...

Grieves me greatly. Thessaloniki 1969 I was yanked off the Orient Express en route Constantinople from Switzerland in by rough, angry Greek soldiers who, oddly spoke only Greek & German! for having a peace sign on my boyfriend's backpack. We were on our way to jail (apparently the soldiers thought the peace sign - you know, circle, vertical line with 2 arms down - was a secret Communist sign). Were it not for an American lawyer who was in the same train, who watched us two clueless, resisting, protesting hippies being dragged off, acting quickly, and persuasively, we'd have been rotting in jail possibly for years.

7:48 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home