On 15 December anarchists in Bristol attempted to burn down what they described as a Lloyds bank depot by placing bins of flammable material soaked in gasoline in front of wooden doors. Their motive was to express solidarity with ‘comrades’ imprisoned in Greece for anarchist activity, and imprisoned in Chile and Switzerland in relation to attempted bombings. Bristol continues to be a particular hotbed of anarchist activity with the Stokes Croft riots, other clashes with the police, and subsequent arrests proving to be significant drivers in a prolonged anarchist campaign.
The action in Bristol followed a series of operations by international anarchists earlier in the month. Letter bombs targeted the CEO of Deutsche Bank, the Chief Director of Italy’s tax collection office (Equitalia), and the Greek embassy in Paris. Another parcel was sent to Equitalia on 15 December, although unlike the first this did not detonate, and threatening letters containing bullets were mailed to the Italian Justice Minister and Mayor of Rome.
The letter sent to Deutsche Bank has been published and this claimed action on behalf of the “Free East and Billy Cell”. This refers to the case of two anarchists who were caught after torching an ATM in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on 11 October. Their action in turn was in solidarity with an injured Chilean anarchist, Luciano Tortuga. It is unclear if all these actions were launched by the same group, but the back story shows how networked anarchist groups have become, with causes transcending national boundaries.
The main focus of the anarchist movement currently remains the banks and financial institutions, especially with relation to the governments of Italy and Greece. Later in this period, follow-up action included an attack on two banks in Frascati, Rome. One was hit by a fire-bomb, whilst the other – a Deutsche Bank branch – was merely substantially vandalised. Meanwhile, on 19 and 20 December anarchists in Barcelona attacked two ATMs with firebombs and used a noise device against a police station. The city previously saw a similar wave of operations in mid-November, and more than one cell seems to be active in the city.
Anarchists in Italy, Spain and Greece continue to display aggression, reach and capability with small explosive devices and there is evidence of skills transfer with other activist groups (e.g. anti-nanotech members of il Silvestre). Despite the current clear banking focus, all large businesses could easily become targets, given sufficient cause. The unpredictability of the many cells that make up the anarchist network means that their activities should continue to be observed with some care, especially following major incidents or arrests; solidarity, revenge, “punishment” and copycat attacks are all popular. In the UK attacks are less common and generally less violent, but the Bristol incident illustrates the intent for violent action does exist in some anarchist communities.