I personally have never experienced unpleasant situations with the police or with security forces but many of my friends have. The older I become, the more stories I hear of police harassing Ethiopian youth without any provocation.
When you see police officers approaching Ethiopian men and asking them over and over to present their ID just because they happen to be in a park or walking on the street you can understand that something is very wrong. I was once the only Ethiopian Israeli waiting at a bus stop with other women and children; a police officer stopped me and asked what I was carrying. After I told him what I had with me–he went away. I only recently understood that the police can come after me too without reason.
After long-standing police harassment of my community, we now have on our hands a far more troubling situation:
A police officer shot a civilian.
How can this have happened?
How does a policeman take out his gun and aim it at a person?
This is not the first time and our community has lost patience–the rage is coming out.
The recent police shooting has crossed every line. Every police officer and soldier is taught that if there is a danger, they disarm the danger and do not kill the person. We all saw what happened to a soldier who killed a terrorist. He went to jail! How can a police officer can kill an ordinary civilian instead of neutralizing him?
There are questions for which we will never receive answers–but I sincerely hope that things will improve. That something will change. It hurts me that some, if not all, members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community do not trust the police, those who are supposed to protect us. It will take a long time for this trust to be rebuilt.
With a lot of Prayer.
This post was contributed with the assistance of Nishmat – The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women.
Find perspectives on this issue at The Times of Israel topic page for Ethiopian-Israeli Voices.