As 2020 is coming to an end it was time to assess the sequence of police brutality throughout the world. A country which seemed to witness a wild shift on this matter was Greece. Beatings, excessive use of authority, unreasonable convictions and hard-line hate rhetoric were all over Greek cities the past few months. Are police acting autonomously? The answer is no. Powered by the government, with the media and the judiciary on their side it is no wonder that the country is slowly turning into a police state.
Police Violence Mounting in GreeceThis draconian new law is a complete delegation of power and responsibility to one of the most rotten and corrupt institutions of Greek society
During the past year Greek citizens have seen police actions take the form of army raids. We are witnessing the birth of a police state whose purpose is to destroy the social strata of Greece. Examples are countless. House arrests without warrants, assaults in cinemas, universities, bars, and cafes. Police forces even landed on Greek islands like a real invasion army. While they have always been the “watch dogs” of the state, recent neoliberal legislation needs harsher protection.
The logical sequence is the legal solidification of this brutality. A new act gave the police almost unlimited power in deciding which protests will be unlawful and which will not. This new draconian law delegates the power to one of the most rotten and corrupt institutions of our society. Why would a government think that such an organ can decide on one of the most fundamental aspects of democracy? The answer is simple: this is the inevitable will of neoliberal governments. To step upon civil and political rights as it slowly decimates the socio-economic ones.
Whose state?Aware that the post-pandemic economic crisis will bring massive demonstrations and dissatisfaction, the government safeguards its position behind police violence and violation of rights.
It is well known that the state exists only as an abuser and as the ‘crutch’ of the bourgeois class. As privatizations continue, the state delegates its responsibilities, while maintaining its power, to a semi-autonomous, corrupt and rotten institution. As a result any criticism is slowly shifted towards that and away from the governments.
Any criticism or comments are lost in a huge maze of sub-committees which are responsible to review “out of line police behavior”. Furthermore, the respective minister of justice won’t comment and also encourages them under the dogma of law and order. As a result there is an eternal loop of motivated or unchecked police brutality which is immune to criticism. Limited and time consuming judicial reviews and the goal of ‘cleaning the neighborhoods and ending protests’ create a ‘police state’. A state where 492 policemen exist per 100,000 residents (third largest police force in Europe per capita) with endless resources.
Police superintendents and members of the riot police have the ability to judge, convict and execute decisions on simple protesters. We are not talking about judicial decisions, but rather extra-judicial ones Unreasonable arrests, police beatings and planted evidence lead to a time and money consuming process that low-income families cannot respond to. Systemic media are there to help the police take the role of the judge. To the public eye police decisions are reasonable and likely mean ‘automatic conviction’ and restoration of order. They are here to put a negative ‘stigma’ on demonstrators, squatters and radical elements of the society.
One can surely talk about the illegality of police in executing decision. Theoretically beating up people in the middle of the street and invading houses is illegal. Executing decisions on the spot is something that should be banned. Police creating their own laws and establishing them in the society resembles a different type of society. However, the laws that the police are using are nothing but an extension of the already outdated and rotten laws. Laws are created to trick the lower classes and give the idea of a free and fair society. It is the meeting point of “weak and strong.” Nonetheless, we all know that the economic reality and structure behind these laws has nothing to do with equality. As a result, these police actions are the raw face of these laws without the convenient mask that hides the inequality.
Supporters of police violence see it as a cleansing of the rotten parts among us. Aa a well-deserved penalty for those who stray away from our “well-organized” world. After all, why should there be protests people ask? Closing down roads, disrupting tourism and creating problems is all they do right?
The monopoly of violence is now on the hands of the police which is evident in the countless videos on social media. A monopoly that passes through a monopoly of judgment and execution. By deploying the police, the Greek state attempts to solidify that under the dogma of ‘Law and Order’. Can it do it by itself? The answer is no. The Greek government has conscripted both the judiciary and systemic media to achieve that goal.
United Front of Hate
Attorney generals and judges seem to be in line with the same rhetoric and actions. The current party has engaged in a discourse of hate against the Left and places like Exarcheia. By adopting a tough “law and order” policy, the government constantly raids this place as a bastion of terrorists.The lines between state and judiciary system are very blurred and and almost identical.
A typical example would be a recent anti-Nazi demonstration, where several people got arrested and the district attorney temporarily banned them from entering Exarcheia(!). What we are talking about is a tremendous violation to their right to free movement, thought and expression. On a practical note, one of them is working in that area, which makes his right to work unattainable. The unification of powers seem to annihilate the idea of checks and balances to the state by anyone.
As in every police state, nothing can be achieved without the validation of the common opinion. The current governing party bought out the media of this country. How? By giving them 20 million euros without any basis or criteria. A move that raised a lot of concerns even from the international press. Naturally, the majority of them praise the government on keeping its promises and producing safety and order for the society. Such moves hide the inability to respond to the multiple crisis that plague Greece at this very moment.
As fundamental democratic principles are torn away one by one, everything is unified under the banner of the government. Mainstream transmission of information, judiciary, executive and legislative procedures are all moving along the side of the current party. As we are concerned with what’s happening in that level, we keep witnessing its inability to respond to the pandemic, the economic and the diplomatic crisis that hovers over the country.
Panos studied Law and International Human Rights Law in the University of Sussex in the UK. S/he is interested in politics, human rights and law. S/he lives in Greece.