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23 Jun, 2015 03:03

Ethiopian-Israeli anti-racism protest ends in clashes with Tel Aviv police, arrests (VIDEO)

Ethiopian-Israeli anti-racism protest ends in clashes with Tel Aviv police, arrests (VIDEO)

At least 19 people were arrested after clashes erupted between police and hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis who took to the streets of Tel Aviv to protest against racism and police brutality.

Angered by the recent decision by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to close a criminal investigation into a police officer who beat up an Ethiopian Israeli soldier back in April, hundreds of Ethiopian took to the streets to speak up against the police’s racist attitudes.

The demonstration that began in the Sarona area of Tel Aviv at 3:00pm, proceeded peacefully to Tel Aviv’s centrally-located Rabin Square.

“Violent police should be locked up,” they wrote on large placards as they chanted, “We've had enough, we're a new generation.”

As about 500 Ethiopian-Israeli protesters made it to the government complex at the main square, they tried to block off the intersection of Ammunition Hill and Menachem Begin, when they were confronted by hundreds of Border Police and riot police that were deployed to the area earlier.

הפגנת יוצאי אתיופיה התדרדרה לאלימות מול כוחות המשטרה, מה שהסתיים בלפחות 15 מעצרים. כך זה נראה http://t.co/2yaR2CRtw6pic.twitter.com/54PxZ0XwSG

— Time Out Tel Aviv (@TimeOutTA) June 22, 2015

After the crowd ignored orders to clear the area, clashes erupted between protesters and police forces.

Prior to Monday's demonstrations, Israeli-Ethiopian soldiers organized an online protest calling on other Ethiopian soldiers to “abandon the system that has abandoned you.” The online plea also urged soldiers to join the demonstrations on Monday, despite IDF regulations banning soldiers from attending “any demonstration or in any march or parade, conducted by an authority that is not the military.”

READ MORE: Ethiopian Jews march in anti-racism protest in Haifa

Earlier on Monday, the Israel Police reached an agreement with Ethiopian community leaders promising greater transparency over violations of police conduct.

Approximately 135,500 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, and more than a third of them (over 50,000) were born in the country. Street protests began late April after a clip emerged showing policeman shoving and punching a black soldier. Officers in the video were suspended from their duties.

In mid-June, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to end the investigation into the case after both the state prosecutor and the Police Internal Investigations Department recommended that charges against the policeman be dropped.