On 23.12.2019, we tried to interrupt the normal operation with a symbolic occupation of the Greek consulate in Berlin, After several, also brutal, evacuations of occupations in Greece, we decided to set a sign of solidarity on this way. Even though the action was successful, we decided to publish our collective reflections here to give the chance to follow the whole action and our thoughts about it.
We entered the building at 11 a.m. with 17 people and calmly asked the staff to stop working for the day. The aim was to disturb the smooth running of the procedure, but without causing further damage. The consulate is located on the 4th floor of an apartment building in Möhrenstraße 17 in Berlin-Mitte. As soon as we entered the rooms, we covered the cameras, explained our reason of the occupation to the staff, hung a banner with the words “Solidarity with the Squats” out of the window and threw out flyers. We made no demands whatsoever, but took the room to spread our ideas and show our solidarity.
The supporters down the street distributed flyers and our statement to the pedestrians. As soon as the rooms were occupied, we sent our text (https://en.squat.net/2019/12/23/berlin-greek-consulate-occupied-solidari…) to all ministries in Greece via fax and e-mail and also to some of the mass-media, because we discussed beforehand if we want to use the media to propagate our action and decided to send the text to some of them.
In the first minutes of the occupation several visitors came to the consulate, almost all were asked to leave and come back another day, the reactions were different. One visitor refused to leave the premises and remained alone in the visiting room all day.
Soon the consul appeared very upset and nervous. After him, about 20 minutes after the beginning of the occupation, the cops arrived. Since they are not allowed to enter the consulate without permission from the Greek government, they lined up in the hallway and on the street.
Downstairs they harassed the supporters and prohibited the use of banners, but this did not stop the people from continuing to support and shout out loud paroles, which we answered with joy upstairs. In the meantime the street was blocked off, at least eight big police vans were passing by, as well as several patrols and civil cops.
The cops were constantly banging on the door upstairs, sometimes using their batons. The consul talked to them, which turned out to be a bit complicated as he doesn’t speak German and the cops are notoriously not very eloquent.
In this conversation the consul said that we are not violent, no medical aid is needed, he does not know how long we will stay, and he would negotiate with us. He told us that he is not in the position to press charges.
In our reflection process we came to the conclusion that it would have been better to make it clearer to the Consul that he should not talk to the cops. It would have been enough if he had once said that we are here, nobody is hurt, and we will stay as long as we want. So all the time he continued to feel responsible for the rooms and stayed in his position even though they were occupied.
A while later the Greek ambassador appeared at the consulate and in turn began to talk to the cops, this time in German. They tried to persuade him to press charges and let them in. He reacted, as usual in his job, diplomatically, which the cops can now interpret as they like. At first, they didn’t come in because the representatives of the Greek state didn’t want them to, but they managed to exert a lot of pressure.
Then we had a plenary session to discuss how to proceed. This discussion should have taken place under different circumstances, because the consul and other staff members were always able to listen to us, and they sometimes felt involved. The main point of the discussion was the possible repression that the occupation might bring. We put forward several hypotheses as to what we could do to get minimal or no punishment. This discussion is necessary and important and should have been conducted more intensively in advance, although it was clear to everyone that we would very likely go out of action with charges, at least for trespassing.
Unfortunately, the question of repression dominated the discussion and the political goals of the action receded into the background.
Since we are aware that this pattern often occurs, we would like to criticize here that we are sometimes tempted to allow the emphasis to shift away from our goals and towards their means of harassing and intimidating us. Sometimes it does not serve our ideas or reduce repression if we focus on their means. Perspectively we should focus mainly on our goals and don’t give them the chance to influence us.
As our decisions must not only depend on possible repressive consequences, but mainly on our political objectives, we should have had the discussion among ourselves and without listeners, follow the original plan, even though it was spontaneous because of the current situation, and not rely on what representatives of the state against which this action is directed say.
Under these circumstances, we have decided to leave the consulate after the opening hours for visitors, as we have sent our text and successfully symbolically squatted the space.
We have informed the consul that we will leave when the cops have left the entrance area. Of course, they did not respond to this and made the offer that the consul could accompany us downstairs in groups of three where we were to be checked. No one had any interest to leave the building holding the hand of the representative of the Greek state. We wanted to go out together as a group and let the identity card controls, if at all, take place in the street.
So we went down together and walked into the cops’ trap. They herded us together in the elevator lobby and collected our ID documents. Some of us think that it would have been possible several times to offer some resistance, at least on a small scale, and make the cops’ work more difficult. They always returned the ID cards to only three people at a time, who could then leave. We decided together that we would not follow this decision and wait in the hallway for those who were still missing. The first two “released” people were pushed out, but after that we were able to reunite on the other side of a line of cops and wait for the rest. One person was separated from this group and controlled. This harassment was accompanied by all the others in solidarity, but the consul, who was the only one to be let through, was added to the control and even then he did not understand that his presence was not wanted in any way.
In the end, the cops noticed that they still had a report for masking up one’s sleeve, and they tried to identify this person with the help of video recordings, but this was not possible. During the whole waiting time we could hear the loud slogans from outside, and we were very happy to be welcomed on the street by many supporters in solidarity.
In the end, we consider this action as a success, we reached our goals and could show our solidarity across all borders. We know, that it could have been different, the cops and the Greek state could have done much more and the repression could have been harder. We consider this action necessary in order to show our solidarity to the squat(ter)s. It does not matter where we are, state and police repression are the real terrorists.
It is nice to see, that so many people could receive our message, and we continue the struggle together. We published this reflection in order to share our experiences with the movement, learn from each other and keep on fighting.
Our passion for freedom is stronger than any repression!
Solidarity with the squats!
PS: The first charges of trespassing have already reached us.
(via Deutschland Indymedia)