(YnetNews) Ethiopians protest racist attack, clash with police: 'Israel will be like Baltimore'

From: Biniam Tekle <biniamt_at_dehai.org_at_dehai.org>
Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2015 21:13:57 -0400


Ethiopians protest racist attack, clash with police: 'Israel will be
like Baltimore'

After Ethiopian says he was attacked by immigration officials,
Israel's Ethiopian community takes to the streets to protest.

Omri Efraim

Latest Update: 04.30.15, 21:56 / Israel News

Some 1,000 Ethiopian Israelis protested across Jerusalem on Thursday
evening against two incidents of police brutality on minority youths.
The protesters clashed with police and blocked roads – as well as the
light-rail train – in the capital.

The protest focused on "the racism and violence towards Israel's
Ethiopians" and saw scores of protesters clash with police. "There are
racist cops but they are a minority, the real problem is not the
police but the discrimination and neglect," said an officer of
Ethiopian descent, who took part in the protest.

Protester being arrest by police (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Jerusalem District commander, Deputy Commissioner Moshe Adri, tried to
address the protesters at the heart of the riot, but his attempt
failed. The demonstrators then marched on the Prime Minister's
Residence, throwing rocks and glass bottles at police officers tasked
with dispersing the riot.

Two police officers were wounded by rock-throwers at the protest.
Jerusalem Police said in a statement that it "would not allow
protesters to continue breaking the order; we will act decisively."

Pnina Tamano-Shata at protest (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat arrived at the epicenter of the protest to
attempt to calm tensions between the clashing parties. In all, fifteen
people were hurt in the clashes, including three police officers.

"We've had enough! No to racism, no to discrimination. Our democracy
is at risk. Enough to police violence," protesters said, blocking the
entrance to Jerusalem and its main artery.

At first, hundreds of Ethiopians took to the streets in Jerusalem to
protest what they say is rampant racism in Israel against the
community. The protest was sparked by an attack caught on video in
which an Israeli of Ethiopian-descent was attacked by officials from
Israel's immigration authority.

Jerusalem protest (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Rina Angado, a member of the community, told Ynet "our kids serve in
the IDF and then cannot find work. I came here through Sudan on foot
to help form the state (of Israel), I didn't come so my kids would be
abused by the police and the state. This is the result of 30 years of

Police Brutality
Does anyone care about Israel's institutionalized racism? / Dani Adino Abeba
Op-ed: The attack on an Israeli Ethiopian by a police officer left
everyone shocked because demeaning the IDF uniform was more painful
than demeaning a young man.
Full story

Over 120,000 Ethiopian Jews who have moved to Israel since chief
rabbis determined in 1973 that the community had biblical roots. Some
Ethiopian Jews have made it into Israel's parliament and officer ranks
in the military, but complaints of discrimination in schooling and
housing are common.

'Racist attack'

In the first of two videos that surfaced last week showed police
officers assaulting an Ethiopian serving in the Israeli army, who was
wearing his military fatigues at the time of the attack.

In the second, Walla Bayach, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent living in
Be'er Sheva, is seen being attacked by inspectors from Israel's
Population and Immigration Authority.

"They took my shoes and beat me with a crowbar," he said, explaing
they assaulted him on Wednesday thinking he was a migrant.

The Population and Immigration Authority presented a different version
of the incident, saying that Bayach had assaulted the Immigration
inspectors first after they asked him to present identification

Israel Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino met with Israeli Ethiopian
representatives on Thursday in light of the recent violent incidents
between police officers and members of the community.

Bayach shows cuts and bruises caused by inspectors' assault

Bayach left Ethiopia for Israel two years ago. The Be'er Sheva
resident was on his way to the city's employment bureau to obtain a
Letter of Good Standing (a certificate of absence of criminal record)
before entering a new job, when three inspectors in civilian clothes
approached him.

"They asked me if I was Sudanese or Eritrean and I told them I was
Israeli, although I didn't understand who they were," he told Ynet.
"They did not identify themselves, grabbed me violently, twisted my
arm and put handcuffs on me."

Bayach says that the inspectors continued to act violently after he
was restrained in handcuffs. "They knocked me down, removed my shoes
and beat my feet with a crowbar."

"Then, they removed the handcuffs, pulled out my ID card and told me
get into a car. I was very scared, I didn't know who these people who
assaulted me were, and I ran to the city's employment bureau."

Bayach was questioned by the police about his account of the incident
and was taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

"I still don't know what I am guilty of. I never stole or hurt anyone," he said.

Bayach says the inspectors hit him with a crowbar

Moshe Bata, the director of the Ibim Immigrant Absorption Center in
Shaar HaNegev, met with Bayach on Thursday morning. "He is a noble man
and a father to four children," Bata told Ynet.

"I don't believe that he attacked the inspectors. I know him well, he
wouldn't hurt a fly. There were incidents in the past in which
immigrants from Ethiopia were mistaken for asylum seekers. There are
some people in the Israeli society who are racist towards Ethiopian

The Population and Immigration Authority rejected Bayach's claims and
said they were false: "In fact, a completely opposite scenario took
place. The Immigration inspectors asked Bayach to identify himself as
part of their routine operations. He refused to do so and started to
assault the inspectors, forcing one of them to seek medical attention.
The inspectors filed a complaint and it is being examined."

Reuters contributed background to this story

First Published: 04.30.15, 16:38
Received on Thu Apr 30 2015 - 21:14:36 EDT

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