THE MURDER OF ZACKIE OH!
WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN
WILL NOT REMAIN UNANSWERED
1 What didn’t happen after a murder, in the center of Athens, at noon: the taking of fingerprints, pictures of the crime scene, enclosing the perimeter with yellow police line, taking testimonies; police protocol was not followed. What did happen after a murder, in the center of Athens, at noon: the murderer, Evangelos Dimopoulos, sweeps the broken glass, cleaning the crime scene and gives an interview on-camera. The other murderer, Athanasios Hortarias (member of the nationalist organisation “patriotic front”) posts on twitter that the victim ‘killed himself’ with a glass splinter. The witnesses from the surrounding area close down their shops. People passing by continue their shopping. The murderers and their supporters, those who shout and those who keep silent are known to us. We know that they are the owners defending their property. We know that they are the bosses, who build their shops through exploitation, exploitation which sometimes culminates in physical extermination. We know that they are the people always minding their own business, always up to defend the established order. We know that they are agents of patriarchal violence that disciplines deviant bodies. We know that they are the cops.
2 The two murderers, the passers-by, the owners, the bosses, the people only minding their own business, the middle class, the cops, the paramedics, the apathetic observers, everyone contributed in their own way to the murder of Zackie Oh! Afterwards, the media rushed to spread the news; establishing the profile of the “thief”, the “drug addict”, the person who “ran amok”, in order to a cold-blooded murder. They presented the identities that Zackie Oh! held as a priori “marginal” and dangerous, rationalising the murder as a natural outcome. They carried out a survey asking whether Zak deserved to live; and the not so relevant at first glance question: “which people don’t we want as neighbours: migrants? people following other religions? homosexuals?”. Such surveys leave room for the rise of the most conservative, homophobic, racist and toxicophobic reactions within greek society.
What took place there and the following handling of the incident “from those in power” reveals an even more normalized condition. The cops finished what the others started by giving the final death blows to Zak; who resisted until the end. In any case, we know for sure that the executive and judicial power is racist, homophobic, and sexist; prejudiced in its judgement, covering up for murderers and rapists. We’re not surprised by the diligently deficient case file, or by the fact that the two murderers (who took justice into their own hands even though their physical safety was not threatened) were not kept in pre-trial detention. Meanwhile, women who defended their bodies against their rapists/harassers, are treated completely differently by the greek judicial system that convicts them without recognising self-defence as a mitigating factor in their cases. Likewise, we have witnessed similar cases where greek owners have killed, claiming to defend their properties, and have then been declared innocent. In Amfissa last spring, a butcher committed a cold-blooded murder of a 14th year old Roma girl for no reason. At his trial there was a gathering of local people “in solidarity” with him, which was dispersed by enraged Roma people.
3 There is a social demand for parks and churches free from drugs, for safe neighborhoods and playgrounds, for the sanitation of the centre of athens. Initiated by Kaminis (mayor of athens) and his peers, policies fencing off of entrances, the spreading of chlorine on stairwells and the pogroms executed by cops and the crusades of the media. This demand shapes the context in which the incarceration of women migrants in camps, and arrests and ghettoisation become conceivable; where hipster activists and the “indignant citizens” movement target drug users, where the public shaming of hiv-positive women in the media (2012), and the murder of a thief, a junkie, a HIV positive person, become normalised reality. It becomes conceivable to cover the backs of rapists, to stab trans people and to agress fags and dykes. In this social context there is the demand that all these “other” identities become invisible, and are moved away from the touristic center of athens. This is the living reality of the performativity of non normative identity; that undergos state administration and its associated costs.
An important prerequisite of this murder is the widespread toxi-phobia in the society. The toxi-phobic speech depicts drug users as “others” and penalises their existence. It’s one more system of exclusions that reflects the sum total of the stereotypes drug users embody. This group that is broadly called “junkies” refers to a “wretched” mass of users who, due to the criminalisation of heroin and the circle of finding drugs and the money needed (as well as the class and cultural connotations) become more visible in contrast to other substance users (like cocaine users). At the same time, the meaning surrounding the substance itself as totally lethal, leads to the perception of users as “already dead” since “they don’t want to live”. Heroin users have become a synonym of total addiction and decadence. “Junkies” count as less than nothing in this city and every violent action against them is justified. They are considered as a polluting “other”, as “disease carriers’, who “commit dangerous and unjustified crimes and violence”, a rhetoric that justifies exterminating them as defense and deprives their lives of any kind of protection, as they are not worthy of living.
The stigmatisation and lynching of the most debased and fragile parts of society seem to be a common practice. It is given a rational basis because it serves both the protection of property and the production of a “normal” national identity as well as the exclusion of the other, the alien, the non-normal. The body that doesn’t produce, that refuses to conform with the patriarchal capitalist reality will end up at the margin. As it is with the left over products of capitalist production which are destroyed or chanelled into secondary markets. So it follows, that all those who are left over, must either be displaced or become human capital supplying industry which benefits from poverty, migration, and destruction whilst at the same time their very existance justifies those same mechanisms of state oppression.
4 The multiple identities that Zackie Oh! held and the fact that she was a HIVpositive activist, drag queen and known person of the lgbtqia+ community was the only reason one more (out of many) murders didn’t fade into obscurity. So many murders, beatings, and displacements of drug users and marginal bodies stay invisible, we will never get to hear about them. This murder was brought to the surface of the public sphere through the existence and the reactivity of an active lgbtqia+ community and a small fraction of the society and the milieu. The applied selectivity of institutional benefits and rights reflects the difference in policies based on class, race and gender. This tendency towards forced integration by those in power against deviant parts of society to the point where they are assessed as non politically dangerous and can become productive within the capitalist/democratic normality. However, the question of claims and rights concerns us, because it concerns and shapes the conditions of many people’s existence. In any case, we defend the different strategies used by different people, especially when they don’t have access to the possibilities provided by active citizenship.
5 The circumstances once again make us shout even louder; each one of us proudly stands for everything this society is trying to get rid of, everything it is sick of, everything it wants to discard. Standing across the desolation, we put forward self-organisation, intersectionality and solidarity as means in order to come together and resist. We answer united, with rage against everything that suppresses us, that wants us fragile, that murders us.
Whoever has eyes can see, whoever has a heart can feel, whoever can think, they can understand. It was all there, that noon in Gladstonos street. When horror ends up being a normality, it’s a struggle to not get used to it. Though it’s a necessity if we don’t want to become complicit. The glance that looks away, gets blurry, the heart that doesn’t empathise becomes hard, the agency that doesn’t get enraged dies.
The death of Zak, all the things that Zackie Oh! was, serve us a strong lesson. A violent tremor of the certainty of our realities. A reminder of all those lives and all those deaths we comfortably exclude from our sight, a reminder of all the things we have to learn from, and everything that exists outside of us. The death and the life of Zackie Oh! is a call to live against authority, a call to resist death. A call for resistance against fascism in all its forms.
The horror is spreading -with no doubt. We don’t need to report it anymore. There is no way it will stop on its own and we cannot stop it alone. We need one another, we need comradely relations, we need persistence. Give us love and rage that we might fight the monster that is within and around us.
Demonstration for Zac / Zackie Oh!
Saturday 13/10 Monastiraki 12:00 Athens
assembly for the murder of Zac / Zackie Oh!