Friday, November 11, 2011

The State Terror and Repression of Epizentrum

11 November 2011
By Der Kosmonaut

On Tuesday November 8, Epizentrum was evicted by an overwhelming show of force. The Vienna police deployed more than 100 officers, plus an armoured assault vehicle and a helicopter against 26 unarmed occupants of Epizentrum. The absurdity of this mass show of force was further punctuated by the peaceful manner that the occupants voluntarily left. Did the police and authorities really believe they were facing a reincarnation of the Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF). No one in 21st Century Western Europe will ever attempt to repeat the fıasco of the RAF. Had not the Staatspolizei (Secret Police) spies reported there wern't any weapons stashed in the building and that there was never once any discussion of violent confrontation with the authorities? The Austrian media had also antıcıpated and giddy for a violent conflict. The right wing media complained that the occupiers were "softies". That the occupiers didn't put up a fight. Of course, had the occupiers violently resisted, then the media would have denounced them as "violent terrorists". In the event, the police and media looked liked fools.

Immediately after the last occupants were evicted, they and their supporters went to Amerlinghaus to regroup. Weeks ago it was agreed upon to hold a demo at 18:00 the day of the eviction at Urban-Loritz Platz not far from Epizentrum.

The Battle of The Gürtel
Between 18:00 and 18:30 around 250 people gathered at the bottom of the steps leading up to the Vienna City Library. The atmosphere was tense and there was a definite sense that the evening would be explosive. Shortly after 18:30, the demonstration was started when some people ignited fireworks and flares from the steps above. There were a series of explosions. The initial cheers and shouts from the crowd assembled below gave way to confusion and mutterıngs when the flares rained down on the protesters sending people scattering for cover.

It had been determined that the demonstration would move South along The Gürtel to Westbahnhof (West Railway Station). From Westbahnhof, the demo would turn on Mariahilfestrasse towards downtown and stop at Museums Qaurtier. The police had plainclothes among the protesters who promptly reported the route to their superiors.

The demonstaters poured onto the lanes of the The Gürtel southbound. As The Gürtel is the main traffic thoroughfare of Vienna and it was during the end of the Rush Hour, traffic was disrupted. Eight more police vans that had been sent to control the demonstration were stuck in traffic in the Northern direction.  The police were in a combative mood. At the junction of The Gürtel and Felberstrasse, a line of riot cops formed a cordon. Immediately the demonstrators moved on to the tram tracks and the green island which serves as a bike and pedestrian path between the main lanes of The Gürtel. The riot police swooped in quickly. The demonstrators then went the opposite direction heading North still blocking traffic. Suddenly the sound of breaking glass was heard. Someone smashed the windows of a small shop. Many of the demonstrators were angry and wondered who was the asshole that smashed the windows. The demonstration continued with one person carrying an ignited red flare. The Gürtel had turned into a surreal scene with red flares and smoke. 

In manueveours which resembled the Blitzkrieg, the police moved in quickly behind the demonstration. People started running. Back at Urban Loritz Platz, the demonstrators had scattered away like cochroaches in a dark kitchen when the light ıs swıtched on. A group of 30 demonstrators ran down into the Burggasse U-Bahn station. They were chased by the police. A train was in the station. The police communicated to the driver to close the doors and remain in the station. Passengers were trapped in the train. Passengers that had disembarked and unaware of any demonstration found themselves trapped on the platform. On both ends of the platform were the stairs leading out. The police had cordoned off both staircases. The leader of the police squadron asked the protesters where they wanted to go. The demonstrators said they wanted to march down Burggasse. The police accepted it and let everyone out. A small group of about 35 people then marched down Burggase.

The Police Attack
I suspected a trap was being set by the police to kettle and attack the demonstration on Burggasse. I had received information that people were to regroup at Museums Quartier. I took the 49 tram from Urban Loritz Platz directly to Museums Qaurtier. Five minutes after I arrived, the small contingent arrived led by the police. The others waiting at Musems Quartier joined the protest. At the corner of Mariahilfestrasse, the riot police temporarily blocked the intersection. I knew that the police would spring their trap at any moment. I remained on the sidewalk and kept a safe distance from the demonstration. Sure enough at the intersection of Getriedemarkt and Gumpendorferstrasse, the police began to attack the front of the demo. I stopped and turned around. Scores of riot cops jumped out of their vans with their batons looking vicious. Had I been 10 steps ahead, I would have been trapped. 

The police executed their pincer movement perfectly. They surrounded about 40 demonstrators and kettled them in. Looking for quarry, the police brutalised 4 people and arrested them. To cover up the violence, more cops were added and the vans moved to prevent onlookers and photographers from seeing and documenting police brutality.

For three hours, the police kettled that group. The police succeeded in stopping the demo but as usual created more problems than if they had let the demonstration continue. Traffic was blocked and bus service on the 57A disrupted.

Those not caught in the kettle harangued and harassed the police. At one point a group of 50 demonstrators formed a human chain semi-circle around the police. In an act of psychological manipulation, the demonstrators broke their chain and charged at the police. They jumped and stopped 10 meters short of the police.

Exhausted Police
The police had a long day. The same units that had been sent to evict Epiznetrum in the morning were assigned to deal with the spontaneous demo. They were exhausted from running after the protesters. Apparently, it's illegal for the police to ask for anyone's identification without cause. The police must state why they need to see it. The tactic of taking people's data and photographing them in cases where there is no arrest or any specific charges in also illegal. The police planned to release those in the kettle one by one, obtain their data and photograph them.

However, some of the demonstrators refused to have their photos taken. Many of them refused to provide identification unless the police told them they were under arrest and being charged with a specific offence. This perturbed the police beyond endurance. "Ah fuck! Another one giving us hassles about the camera!" The officer sitting in the van entering all the data ınto the computer and looking for outstanding warrants was also exhausted and pissed off. It was hard to determine who the police were more angry with: the demonstrators or their superiors.

After 23:00, the last person was released from the kettle. The police demobilised and took off their armour. Those sitting in the vans held their heads back and eyes closed. They were exhausted.

Controlling The Police

We discovered that those arrested were taken to the Roßauer Lände Detention Facility. A group of 40 people gathered outside in solidarity and waited until all four persons were released. The last one was released at midnight. All reported being beaten by the police. One young man had receıved a cut under his eye. They had not only been brutalised physically but as customary in Austria, they were subjected to the vilest, crudest and most reactionary insults and taunts.

A police van stopped in front of the detention centre. Roßauerlände is where most foreigners are detained before they're deported out of Austria. One person suspected that it might be a deportation and that there should be a spontaneous direct action to attempt to prevent one from happening. A group of seven people walked and approached the police van. The officers were clearly unnerved by this action. A female officer stepped out and opened the back of the van. She pulled out cases of what appeared to be uniforms or riot equipment. She walked towards the main entrance. From her uniform she was a member of the WEGA, the elite unit used for riot control and evictions. She realised that it was the same group she had to deal with all day. She was exasperated as she was finishing her shift. The last thing she wanted to deal with were the same people she had been chasing and fighting all day. "Go home already!" She said it in a very snotty manner. To which was greeted with a response of teeth sucking from some of those assembled.

Meanwhile, her colleagues in the police van displayed their impotent rage. The ignition was started. With screeching tires, the van speed in reverse and came to a screeching halt. Burning rubber, the police van raced forward and went around the corner. The Austrian police really can't take being controlled by civilians. The Austrian police really do wish Austria was a dictatorship. In 2008, before the eviction of an occupied building ın Döbling, a police officer was recorded on camera saying: "You're lucky this is not in a banana republic or I could do whatever I wanted!" Yes, as one of the more militant activists of Epizentrum noted: "Austrian police are silly."

The Mysterious Frenchman
Earlier that day when Epizentrum was evicted, the police reported making one arrest. The police say that the man arrested was a French national. No one recalls a French person at Epizentrum. The collective are looking into the identity of this mysterious Frenchman that the police arrested. Any information available will be posted on this blog.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear the people at Epicentrum got evicted after all. Hang on in there!

Friday, November 11, 2011  

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