Ethiopian-Israeli Protesters, Supporters Block Off Tel Aviv Roads

Major roads in central Tel Aviv were blocked off by at least 1,000 Ethiopian demonstrators and their supporters protesting police brutality against Ethiopian Israelis.

The demonstration which began on Sunday afternoon comes after a Thursday night demonstration in Jerusalem which became violent.

Some 5,000 demonstrators are expected in Tel Aviv by Sunday evening.

Organizers have rejected comparisons with recent events in Baltimore, Haaretz reported.

“The fact that we’re black doesn’t mean that we’re Baltimore,” one of the organizers, Inbal Bogale, told Haaretz. “In Jerusalem we didn’t ‘do a Baltimore’ as people are saying, that’s not what it was about.”

Several Israeli lawmakers joined the demonstrators, including Arab Joint List head Ayman Odeh and party member Dov Khenin, as well Stav Shaffir of the Zionist Union Party, and former Yesh Atid Party lawmaker Pnina Tamano-Shata, the first female Ethiopian lawmker.

Several demonstrators reportedly have been detained by police.

Earlier Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv sent a message to American citizens in Israel to avoid the area of the demonstration due to the violent nature of the Jerusalem rally.

“This demonstration has the potential of drawing large crowds. A similar protest held in Jerusalem on Thursday lasted several hours and turned violent, resulting in injuries, arrests, and property damage. We advise US citizens to avoid the area and to monitor local media for updates,” the embassy message said.

The rally came as the Prime Minister’s office announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene a discussion with Ethiopian community representatives and planned a meeting with Israeli soldier Damas Pakada, who was filmed being beaten last week by two policemen.

Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino, and representatives of the Public Security, Social Affairs and Social Services, Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, and Interior ministries, and the Union of Local Authorities, are also scheduled to attend the meeting.

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