Out of control and getting worse every day

For about 35 years, Niki Anastassiou and her family have had a restaurant on Sarri Street and a convenience store. She herself has lived in Psyrri for over 50 years, and has seen it go through several transformations. As her convenience store is open at night, she has been witness to a great deal, as well as having experienced threats and attacks. «I look back on the time when this was a district of small factories and working people. We all lived peacefully together and never had a problem. Now people come here from all over the place to go wild; what goes on here has nothing to do with entertainment. They have the protection of the bouncers and the tolerance of the police and other authorities,» she said, adding: «For those of us who live here, the sight of young people getting drunk or breaking things right up until dawn is a regular occurrence. They vandalize, beat each other up and cause disturbances, shouting all over the place. «The authorities will have to realize that outrageous things are happening in Psyrri and that if they don’t do something serious soon, people are going to get hurt,» said Giorgos Iliopoulos, a resident and the owner of an icon studio. «Things are out of control and getting worse every day,» he added. «One nightclub closes and 10 more open. There are too many clubs, and the quality of the people who come here has changed. Many of them just come here to cause a disturbance, knowing that breaking things in Psyrri won’t get them into trouble. Who will do anything? Nightclub owners have worked according to a plan and managed to convince everyone that during the day the district is deserted, and they are trying to drive out the remaining residents. Those of us who persist in living here, despite the threats, are an obstacle to their plans,» he said. «The bouzouki clubs and their bouncers have defeated the art galleries,» said artist Michalis Kazazis. «Those who imagined the district as an Athenian version of Soho, with art galleries, have been disappointed, myself included. I came down from Thessaloniki hoping to be inspired by the historic character of the place, but instead I find myself fighting every day with the club owners about the loud music. I protest about the noise, although I realize they have to do their job. That is why I don’t ask them to turn off the music completely, just to turn it down. I tell them that I have rights as well; some of them show understanding but others send their bouncers to intimidate me.»