Ethiopian-Israeli organizers and activists led civil disobedience today in Tel Aviv to call Israel's attention to racist, police brutality happening here, just days after a similar protest in Jerusalem (sparked by video of police beating an Ethiopian-Israeli man) was met with violence. Police were out in force in Tel Aviv hours before the protest began and, in the end, the demonstration was met with more violence.
Traffic was heavy and barely moving as we approached the demonstration, but people were streaming up toward it on foot. I walked toward the crowd after getting off the bus, and the march was heading South toward the (major artery) Ayalon Highway. The crowd was electric, chanting "This is a police state, end the racism," "It's not about Black and White, Racism is Evil," "Violent cops should be in prison," and the traditional "the whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the thing is to not be afraid" as the march neared the bridge.
Some drivers were angry, revving engines and yelling and some protesters yelled about how the country could not afford internal racism between Jews, as 'the whole place is surrounded by Arabs'. People broke from the group to pray. Cops violently dragged people off the street in some cases. There is an enormous amount of work to do.
This was a true demonstration of power. Holding the road, protesters allowed a car to pass transporting a woman on her way to the hospital to give birth. The crowd was multigenerational, fired up and clear that their presence would be felt until the country understands that #BlackLivesMatter
For hours protesters, including some members of Knesset, held the Ayalon and streets throughout the city. Traffic was backed up from top to bottom and in suburbs. They began calling on angry drivers, the media, and police to take note of the power they hold, even in the face of state violence, and to stand with them against systemic racism and police brutality.
*Photos were taken on an old phone. Quality is not great.