TEL AVIV — In an echo of protests this week in Baltimore, demonstrators in Jerusalem, Israel have taken to the streets to oppose police brutality against Ethiopian Israelis. The immediate trigger for the protest, which drew hundreds of people to the streets near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence, was a surveillance video showing two policemen beating a black Israeli soldier in uniform. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat rushed to the scene to listen to the demonstrators’ concerns.
— תל-אביבטיימס (@telavivtimes1) April 30, 2015
(The poster in the tweet above reads: “Israeli police, hit me! I’m black.”)
One of the protest leaders warned that “Israel will be like Baltimore,” according to Ynet. Israel has brought hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from Africa to Israel over the past 30 years, rescuing them from war and famine and re-establishing their ties to the rest of the Jewish community. Ethiopians have gone on to excel in academia, politics, and the arts–but many are still struggling, and some maintain that they are targets of racial discrimination by other Israelis.
The demonstrators numbered about 1,000, according to the Times of Israel. The Jerusalem Post also reported that two religious leaders from the Ethiopian Jewish community attended the protest. Though it began peacefully, the protest later turned violent, with rocks and bottles thrown at police.
The mayor–known and admired for his personal approach to problems, including terrorism–went directly to the demonstration to discourage violence and hear protestors directly.