JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ethiopian Israelis and their supporters brought Tel Aviv to a near halt on Wednesday afternoon in protest of what they say is institutional racism and racist police brutality.
Over 1,000 people blocked major intersections as they walked through the city to Rabin Square.
The demonstration comes more than a week after a 24-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli, Yehuda Biadga, was killed as he ran at a police officer with a knife. Biadga is described as mentally ill. The officer, who has been put on leave pending an investigation, said he feared for his life, but the protesters charge that he fired because Biadga was black.
Ethiopian-Israeli community leaders say it is the latest incident of many involving police brutality, and that there is a pattern of racism and abuse by police toward Ethiopian Israelis.
The demonstrators are calling for a judge to look into Biadga’s death rather than the Justice Ministry department responsible for investigating police incidents. They are also calling for an emergency Cabinet meeting on police violence, beefing up a government task force on racism and the full implementation of the recommendations of the Palmor Committee on ending discrimination against Ethiopian Israelis.
Hundreds and possibly thousands more are expected to join the demonstration at Rabin Square throughout the evening. A similar protest held in 2015 led to clashes between the protesters and police.