From Tel Aviv to Rio to London, Black Protest Against Police Brutality Is Catching Fire

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Members of Black Lives Matter London marched to the U.S. Embassy to protest recent police killings in the United States. AFP/Getty Images
Members of Black Lives Matter London marched to the U.S. Embassy to protest recent police killings in the United States. AFP/Getty Images#BlackLivesMatter Worldwide: The Global Movement Against Police Violence

Although the #BlackLivesMatter movement began following the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin and spread with the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the struggle against police brutality is a global one. And while the Black-led, multiracial protests have been gaining momentum in the U.S., so, too, has worldwide activism surrounding the violence committed against Black bodies.

As protests erupted recently over the killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Black Israelis have been protesting by the hundreds in Tel Aviv against institutional racism and police violence by the Israeli government.

Arrests were reported in Tel Aviv earlier this month of predominantly young Jewish Israelis of Ethiopian descent. On July 3, protesters attempted to block the nation’s busiest highway, as was reported by David Sheen in the San Francisco Bay View. The Black protesters held signs bearing the likeness of Yosef Salamsa, 22, an Ethiopian Israeli found dead in July 2014 in a quarry after facing police abuse months earlier. As Sheen reported, Salamsa had been approached and tasered by police without warning. He and his family faced death threats after filing a report with the authorities, and after he was found dead, the government refused to allow the family to identify his body before burial.

“We only wanted for Yosef’s story to be known and for justice to be done. For his story to not be buried with him, as many stories were buried,” Tehune Maharat, Salamsa’s cousin, told the San Francisco Bay View. “Many youth were murdered because they were Black. They experienced police brutality, they were beaten, humiliated and abused, just because they were Black. Not for any other reason,” she added.

As Atlanta Black Star reported, protests erupted in Israel in May 2015 after a video was shown of a white police officer assaulting Damas Pakada, a Black Israeli soldier in a Tel Aviv suburb. Police arrested Pakada and detained him overnight, releasing him only after the video footage went viral. Thousands took to the streets and were met by riot police.

Although police brutality has proven an important part of the protests, Black activists in Israel are railing against a host of discriminatory practices by the government in housing, education and the military, and a state program in which Ethiopian women were forced to take injections of the contraceptive Depo-Provera. As a result, the Ethiopian-Israeli population dipped 20 percent. Activists regard this as a form of genocide, in a nation that does not want more Black people. And while a year has passed since the protests against anti-Black racism began in Israel, the press and the greater white society do not seem to care. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to make changes he promised to the Ethiopian community, just as Israel seeks observer status in the African Union.

Meanwhile, this month people marched in London, Berlin and Amsterdam holding #BlackLivesMatter signs and chanting, “No justice, no peace,” as CNN reported. Around 1,000 people stopped traffic in Brixton in South London, as protesters chanted “Black lives matter” and “hands up, don’t shoot,” according to The Guardian. Brixton is known for the 1981 Brixton Rising, in which a bloody confrontation took place between police and Black protesters, amid socioeconomic problems, high unemployment and police stop-and-frisk policies facing the Afro-Caribbean population. As BBC reported, over 300 people were injured in the 1981 uprising, with millions of pounds in property damage, leading to calls for community policing in Black neighborhoods.

Further, protests were held in Birmingham, England, including a rally outside a police station. Activists demanded a prosecution in the death of Kingsley Burrell, 29, who died of cardiac arrest in March 2011 after he was arrested, handcuffed and restrained by West Midlands police and left on a hospital floor for hours, according to The Guardian.

But Black lives also matter in Canada, a country where racism exists despite the perception that Black folks have it better up north than south of the border. As the Toronto Star reported, in recent weeks, thousands have assembled for actions in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and Toronto to “publicly express sadness and opposition to anti-black police brutality and the impunity that too often follows.”

“What most Canadians do not appreciate is that we too have a tragic trend of black men who have been killed by police with impunity, and thus who could be just as easily memorialized with their own haunting hashtags. Think, #AndrewLoku, #JermaineCarby, #AlexWettlaufer, #KwasiSkene-Peters, #Jean-PierreBony, #IanPryce, #FrankAnthonyBerry, #MichaelEligon, #EricOsawe, #ReyalJardine-Douglas, #JuniorAlexanderManon, just to name a few names since 2010,” wrote Toronto-based lawyer Anthony Morgan in The Star.

And just days before Rio de Janeiro is set to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Black Lives Matter activists from the U.S. traveled to the city to march with their Brazilian counterparts and protest against police violence. About 200 protesters gathered for a march and ceremony at Candelaria cathedral, where in 2003 off-duty police killed eight sleeping children and teens on the church steps, as AOL News reported. Through May 2016, 322 people died in conflicts with Rio police, reflecting a 5.6 percent increase over last year. According to Human Rights Watch, police have killed over 8,000 people in the state of Rio de Janeiro over the past decade, three-quarters of them being Black males. Further, in Brazil, a majority-Black nation, law enforcement is responsible for a “significant portion” of the nearly 60,000 violent deaths each year, according to a United Nations report.

A presence of 85,000 police and soldiers is expected for the Olympics, which take place from August 5-21.

“It’s important that we stand with each other because we know this violence is connected,” said Daunasia Yancey, a Black Lives Matter activist from Boston, according to The Washington Post. “Anti-black violence is global and our resistance is global.”

Black Lives Matter everywhere. Know this.

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