Thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis Shut Down Tel Aviv To Protest the Death of 24-Year-Old Yehuda Biadga Who Was Killed By Police
"There is racism everywhere. I feel like I don't belong to this country."
An anti-police brutality demonstration consisting of thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis that was held Wednesday in Israel is yet another wake up call that state sanctioned violence against the black body is a global, ever-present issue.
These young people took to the streets and gathered in central Tel Aviv to protest the death of 24-year-old Yehuda Biadga, an Ethiopian-Israeli from the coastal city of Bat Yam, who was shot and killed by police, Haaretz reports. He was known to grapple with mental illness.
The incident occurred on Friday, Jan. 18. Police were responding to a call that Biadga was in possession of a knife and was a threat to those in his vicinity. Once police arrived, Biadga had fled to a nearby street and once confronted, police say Biadga approached an officer with the knife and ordered him to stop. Police add that he did not yield to their commands. "Feeling a threat to his life, the officer then fired at Biadga," Times of Israel says. He succumbed to his wounds in the hospital. This incident is currently under investigation by the Internal Investigations Department.
The family of the 24-year-old say the police used excessive force against their loved one, emphasizing that he had stopped taking his medication recently. His family notes that he was a good student and served in the military.
"When a terrorist comes to carry out an attack they say 'don't shoot' and if you do shoot, then at the legs. But when this is a citizen they shoot at his upper body—that isn't normal," David Biadga, the brother of the deceased, says to Times of Israel. "My brother was a totally normal person. A God-fearing young man."
Organizers of the protest say the death of Biadga is yet another life added to the long list of incidents of police brutality against Ethiopian Jews.
"There is racism everywhere. I feel like I don't belong to this country." a protester shared with Haaretz. "Both my brothers served as combat soldiers in the military. It's unreal, you give your soul and they end up murdering you."
Biadga's father was present at the demonstration, who expressed his gratitude for the support and hope that the officer involved will receive due reprimand.
"They took my child away and the pain is great, but today I saw how much people love him and it lifts my spirits," he says.
Take a look at images and clips from the demonstration via Twitter below.