The killing of Yehuda Biadga, a mentally ill Ethiopian-Israeli, by the police in Tel Aviv last week brought together thousands of Ethiopian Jews in the Israeli city on Wednesday to protest against racism and police brutality.
The anger stemmed from the fact that there were so many cases like that of Biagda perpetrated by the police and the Ethiopians are marginalized despite having Israeli citizenship, organizers of the protest told local media Haaretz.
“There is racism everywhere. I feel like I don’t belong to this country. Both my brothers served as combat soldiers in the military. It’s unreal, you give your soul and they end up murdering you,” said a protester.
Elias Inbram, one of the organizers of the protest said that police violence isn’t an Ethiopian-Israeli problem only, but many other Israelis face it.
They are calling for an independent body to probe Biadga’s death, full implementation of the Palmor Committee’s recommendations on ending discrimination against Ethiopian-Israelis, an emergency cabinet session on police violence, and an independent investigation into two other acts of violence including the shooting of Shahar Maman and the brutal beating of Damas Pakada.
The protest ended with five protesters and six police officers injured after violence erupted at a nearby train station where the police had created barricades. At least nine people were arrested, reports Haaretz.
“Israel police respects the freedom of expression of all citizens but police officers will continue to act against all violence, physical or verbal. We will not allow officers in uniform to be harmed and we have no patience for those seeking to disturb the peace while putting people at risk,” the police said of the violence at the train station.
עימותים עם מפגינים pic.twitter.com/ESaFAalNrY
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) January 30, 2019
Some of the protesters told Haaretz they are concerned about the behavior of the police who treat them badly because of their skin colour.
“Our goal is to have our voices heard, we don’t want problems. There is an entire generation born here who doesn’t know what Ethiopia is but we’re labeled as Ethiopians because of our skin color,” said a protester.
“I came here when I was 13, I served in the border police, I know what the rules engagement are when facing a person holding non-firearm weapons. The officer could have shot Yehuda in the leg. This is unacceptable and I am very angry,” he added.
“Instead of feeling part of the nation, we feel like annexes to Israeli society… I don’t need people to
Israel has been criticized for its plan to expel African refugees in the country, a move that has been described as anti-African and racist.
Here are some images from the protest shared on social media.