Balkan Insight, “The Accidental Death of an Anarchist”

How should the state deal with an environmentalist who wants to abolish the state? A Greek anarchist charged at the police after a protest against pollution. They responded with truncheons, denial and silence.

By Iason Athanasiadis, December 6, 2021

When he was 18 years old, Vasilios Mangos smashed up the local offices of the Greek neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn. He was convicted of vandalism by a court in his hometown of Volos but, as the sentence was suspended, avoided going to jail. Seven years later, on June 14, 2020, Mangos would again run into trouble with the law. This time, there was no judgement: the punishment was administered instantly, at the gates of the Volos courthouse. Mangos was kicked, beaten with truncheons and bundled away to the station after he rushed at a group of officers during a protest outside the courthouse. Released without charge that afternoon, he was admitted to hospital, where he was diagnosed with six fractures to the ribs and bruising to the liver and gallbladder. Four days later, he was sent home, zonked out on painkillers. 

Back with his family, the 26-year-old nursed his injuries and looked into suing the police. The government had come out in support of the officers’ actions, declaring that Mangos – known to the authorities as a committed anarchist – had behaved in a threatening manner. But there was evidence to suggest that the police had overstepped the mark: the assault outside the courthouse had been filmed on protesters’ phones.

Mangos joined a group of activists from the local anarchist and leftist scene who were planning a separate challenge against the local police, over its crackdown on a recent environmental demonstration. In Facebook updates, he explained why he had confronted the officers: he was angry about the environment, and about police brutality. He said the officers only let him go when they realised that he would need medical attention. “I heard them say they would be obliged to take me to hospital if they held me any longer,” he wrote. “Two months of recovery now, and who knows how many years until I get justice.” 

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