The head of the Police Internal Investigations Unit, attorney Keren Bar-Menachem, has been assigned police protection after she was shouted down at a conference on police relations with the Ethiopian community. The conference was infiltrated by activists from the community, who prevented her and others from speaking, shouting down remarks she was trying to make with cries of “criminal” and “you have blood on your hands.”
Relations between the community and police have deteriorated since the death of Solomon Teka, an Ethiopian youth who was killed by an off-duty police officer in Haifa last summer. The officer said that Teka had attempted to attack him and his family along with other members of a gang, which the family of Teka and others who were present denied. The incident led to widespread protests by community members, culminating in the disruption of the conference Monday.
The conference included a large number of police officers and attorneys. In response to the incident, Avi Himi, head of the Israel Lawyers Association, said that “the conference was highly charged. We knew in advance that such a difficult subject would elicit strong reactions, but we wanted to allow the community to participate and respond. Thus we did not prevent the activists from expressing their feelings. At a certain point it was no longer possible to continue and we had to stop it.”
Himi added that “personally, I am sorry we were unable to complete the proceedings. The Lawyers Association will continue to deal with social issues, as difficult and controversial as they may be.”