Hundreds protest in Tel Aviv against killing of George Floyd

Hundreds of protesters gather for 'Black Lives Matter' demonstration in Tel Aviv to protest killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Sam Sokol, JTA ,

Black Lives Matter protest in Tel Aviv June 2nd 2020
Black Lives Matter protest in Tel Aviv June 2nd 2020
Miriam Alster/Flash90

Hundreds of protesters gathered near the site of the former US embassy in Tel Aviv to protest the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota by a police officer last Monday.

The protesters — a mix of Israelis, including Ethiopian Jews and African-American immigrants — compared the situation in Israel to that in the United States, reading out lists of the names they said were victims of police brutality. They screamed slogans like “No justice, no peace” and “Solomon Tekah, the last victim” — a reference to the death of an Ethiopian-Israeli teenager shot by an off-duty police officer last year.

They also protested the recent killing of Iyad Halak, 32, an autistic Arab man from eastern Jerusalem who was shot and killed by Israeli Border Police on Saturday morning. Defense Minister Benny Gantz has apologized for the shooting and one of the officers involved was placed under house arrest. A second was released from police custody and placed under restrictive conditions.

“I want you to pay attention to how f****ing long this list of names is that we are about to read,” organizer Gavriel Chichester, an African-American Jewish man originally from Washington, D.C., told the demonstrators through a megaphone. “Imagine moving across the world, making aliyah to Israel and being worried halfway across the world if your little black brothers are gonna die at home and you can’t go f***ing see them.”

“Black lives,” he screamed, almost crying.

“Matter,” the crowd chanted back.

Last summer, tens of thousands here took to the streets to protest Tekah’s death, with peaceful protests quickly giving way to violent rioting.

His killing came six months after Yehuda Biadga, 24, a mentally ill Ethiopian Israeli, was shot and killed by police when he charged an officer while brandishing a knife. His death led to demonstrations throughout Tel Aviv.

In May 2015, similar protests erupted following the beating of an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier by two police officers that was filmed and widely distributed. Those protests devolved into riots in which police officers fired stun grenades, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, who threw rocks and glass bottles at police and also vandalized some storefronts.



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