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Israeli Black Panthers Turn Meeting into Shambles; Battle Police; Charge Brutality

Israel’s home grown Black Panthers battled police outside of Jerusalem district police headquarters today after they earlier disrupted an annual folkloric gathering of immigrants from North Africa. Police wielded truncheons as the self-styled Panthers tried to storm the headquarters building. A claim by one Panther, that mounted police had indiscriminately trampled them was refuted by an eye-witness known by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to be reliable. The witness said police used truncheons to disrupt the mob, but not “viciously” and “only when absolutely necessary.” Today’s incidents were the first serious outbreak of violence involving Jerusalem slum youths who have adopted the name and style of the extremist militant American Negro Black Panther Party.

According to witnesses, a gathering of 5,000 North African immigrants in Sacher Park across a valley from the Knesset building was turned into shambles when a gang of Panthers tried to take it over. The gathering, nown as “Maimuna” fosters North African Jewish folklore. President Zalman Shazar appeared personally this morning to open it. The Panthers invaded the gathering in the afternoon, storming the central stage. Two policemen were injured in the melee that followed. Several Panthers were arrested. About 20 Panthers marched from the park down Jaffa Road, Jerusalem’s main throughfare, to district police headquarters in the center of the city. The marchers were joined by bystanders and their numbers increased to about 60 when they reached police headquarters. According to eye-witnesses they threatened to storm the jail unless the Panthers arrested earlier were released. Ten mounted policemen and several dozen constables guarded the building but did not move against the attackers until they were practically at the door, witnesses said.

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