Italo Balbo Statue Attacked For J31 Day of Action


On the night of July 30, Kalamazoo antifa attacked the Balbo Monument near Soldier Field and Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.

The statue, like many other fascist targets attacked in the past, was tucked away, almost hidden. The exact address or cross-street is hard to find, but we discovered it somewhere southeast of the police memorial, across Museum Campus from Soldier Field, and stuck up against the bike path. It's not far from a street of the same name, both in honor of an Italian fascist named Italo Balbo.

We spraypainted the three arrows underneath the word "ANTIFA" on the face of the statue and wheatpasted the following communique in solidarity with Greek antifascists.

It goes without saying we also stand in solidarity with the Tinley Park 5, Jock Palfreeman, Dane Rossman, Anti-Racist Action, and all antifascists facing repression, but this one's for Greece.

Flier communique for the attack:

One of the many actions antifa chose to partake in for the July 31st Day of Action Against Fascism and Racism was against the Balbo statue in Grant Park. We humbly dedicate this action to antifascists in Greece, who have maintained an active resistance to fascism since before the early 1940's.

Italo Balbo was a fascist leader in Italy immediately following WWI and was one of the main participants in the March of Rome which brought Mussolini to power in 1922. Under Mussolini, Balbo became first the General of the Air Force and then the Minister of the Air Force. In 1933, after leading a flight from Rome to Chicago, Mussolini donated a column from Ostia to Chicago, which would become known as Balbo Monument, and Chicago in turn renamed 7th Street to Balbo Drive. That same year, Balbo was sent to Libya. Though he disagreed with the Italian alliance with Germany (he saw it as degrading to the Italian people), Balbo spent the last days of his life fighting on the Italian side of WWII.

Just after the Italian Declaration of War in June 1940, Italo Balbo was killed in Tobruk, Libya. Exactly four months after his death, Mussolini sent his ambassador to Greece, Emanuele Grazzi, to Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas with an ultimatum. Greece was to allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain unspecified "strategic locations" or otherwise face war. Metaxas answered in French, "Alors, c'est la guerre.": "Then it is war."

In just a few hours, Italian troops in Albania had attacked the Greek border, and the Greek people took the streets, shouting "Οχι!", the Greek word for "no". Within weeks, the Italians were driven out of Greece. In March 1941, a major Italian counterattack failed, and Germany was forced to come to the aid of its ally. April 6, 1941 was the very beginning of Unternehmen Marita (Operation Marita), the invasion of Greece by Nazi Germany. Though the Greeks resisted fascist troops with much fortitude, the country was overtaken by Nazi forces and remained occupied until October of 1944.

Fortunately, the spirit of resistance and antifascism was not lost with the Battle of Greece, and many Greeks continued to speak and act out against the occupying Axis powers. The Germans drove straight to the Acropolis and raised the Nazi flag. According to the most popular account of the events, the Evzone soldier on guard duty, Konstantinos Koukidis, took down the Greek flag, refusing to hand it to the invaders wrapped himself in it, and jumped off the Acropolis.

In 1939, a Greek high school student named Manolis Glezos had helped create a youth antifascist group against the Italian occupation and the Greek dictator Metaxas. During the Axis occupation, he worked for the Red Cross in Athens, and became actively involved in the resistance. On May 30, 1941, he and another Greek youth, Apostolos Santas, climbed the Acropolis and tore down a Third Reich flag, which had been there since the Nazis had taken Athens. In 1944, he would be arrested by Nazi collaborators in Greece, and spend seven months in jail before escaping in late September, shortly before Greece was freed of the Nazi occupation. Later in his life, Glezos would become a Left Wing politician, and on two separate occasions in 2010 and 2012, he would be brutalized by Greek police during demonstrations in Athens.

The spirit of the Greek resistance to Axis forces was so strong that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had once embraced Italo Balbo with open arms, was quoted as saying "all free peoples are deeply impressed by the courage and steadfastness of the Greek nation," and "Greece has set the example which every one of us must follow until the despoilers of freedom everywhere have been brought to their just doom." Churchill claimed that the Greeks didn't simply fight like heroes, "but that heroes fight like Greeks."

We feel it is particularly important to tip our hats to Greek antifa on 2012's J31 Day of Action not only because of their longstanding fight against racism and fascism, but also because, as of June 2012, eighteen of the country's three hundred parliament seats are occupied by members of the neo-Nazi organization, Χρυσή Αυγή (Golden Dawn). The June 17th election followed an election in May that originally granted 21 seats to the neo-Nazi group.

On May 25, Panyiotis Iliopoulos, a newly elected member of parliament from the Golden Dawn, was attacked while dining in Volos, Greece. All antifa made quick getaways and managed not to be arrested. Happening just one week after a similar attack on neo-Nazis in a Tinley Park, Illinois restaurant, Midwestern antifascists couldn't help but smirk at the timeless importance of the principle that "we go where they go". In Exarchia, ballot boxes were destroyed, leading to a near halt of elections.

From June 17-23, Greece saw an upsurge in racist violence around the country, including attacks which left several immigrants and citizens of non-Greek ethnic origins in the hospital. Attacks consisted of targeting people thought to be immigrants in their homes, in Metro stations, and on the streets, while working or traveling alone. In the aftermath, police arrested only one Greek man, instead focusing on detaining and arresting over thirty undocumented immigrants, after they, their friends or family members had been beaten by supporters of Χρυσή Αυγή. This is unsurprising, as in Athens alone, up to 50% of the local police units voted in favor of the neo-Nazi party.

Since, several antifa in Greece have struck back at Golden Dawn. On June 29, a print shop belonging to A. Exarhos, which had produced stickers and keychains for the neo-Nazi organization, was attacked by antifascists, who destroyed all fascist material within, and left the slogan "War on the supporters of fascism!" scrawled across the windows of the shop. Later, a radio station in Rodopi was attacked with explosives for supporting a Golden Dawn member. Nea Dimokratia offices were attacked with paint bombs and had windows smashed by antifascists in Terpsithea. All of this shows us that even in the face of seemingly indomitable opposition, we intend to win!

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