Ethiopian-Israeli protest against police brutality is met with violence

This isn’t Baltimore. This is Jerusalem, on Thursday night. 

Photos by Oren Ziv and Tali Mayer/Activestills.org

Ethiopian-Israelis protest police brutality against Ethiopians in Jerusalem, blocking Israel’s Highway 1, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Ethiopian-Israelis protest police brutality against Ethiopians in Jerusalem, blocking Israel’s Highway 1, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Thousands of young Ethiopian Israelis demonstrated against police brutality in Jerusalem on Thursday, in a vigil that spiraled into violent clashes with police.

The protesters congregated in the afternoon under the banner: “Down with racism! A black person will not be brought down.” The protesters blocked major roads in the capital — including Highway 1, the road that links Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

When the protest approached the Prime Minister’s Residence a few hours later, police gloves were off. Officers fired tear gas and stun grenades at the crowd, with some present reporting via social media that riot control forces had brought out the dreaded “skunk” spray, generally only used in Palestinian protests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Some 15 protesters were reportedly injured.

A police officer appears to use his baton against a protester lying on the ground at a demonstration against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
A police officer appears to use his baton against a protester lying on the ground at a demonstration against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Israeli police shoot putrid ‘skunk’ water a demonstration against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Israeli police shoot putrid ‘skunk’ water a demonstration against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Thursday’s protest came against the backdrop of a video in which a policeman was seen brutally beating an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian heritage in Holon. Ethiopian Israelis have been victims of repeated police violence in recent years.

The protesters demanded that the police officer stand trial, and called for Netanyahu’s immediate intervention. They also called for Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino’s resignation.

Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrate against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Tali Mayer/Activestills.org)
Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrate against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Tali Mayer/Activestills.org)
Ethiopian-Israelis protest against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Ethiopian-Israelis protest against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Ethiopian-Israelis clash with riot police at a protest against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Ethiopian-Israelis clash with riot police at a protest against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Police arrest an Ethiopian-Israelis protester at a demonstration against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Police arrest an Ethiopian-Israelis protester at a demonstration against police brutality, Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrate against police brutality in Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrate against police brutality in Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)