Damas Pakada, 21, immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia seven years ago. He serves as a solider in the Israeli Defense Force, helping to provide for his siblings. A week ago on Sunday, he was riding his bike on his way home in the city of Holon. Little did he know he would be thrust into the center of an Israeli schism over racism and police brutality.
As Pakada reached a street that was blocked by police, he says he asked a policeman what the matter was. From that moment on things quickly turned nasty. “He told me: ‘Turn around or I don’t know what will I do to you,’ and immediately started pushing me,” Pakada told Ynet, an Israeli news site. “I told him not to use force and in response he pushed me from the bikes and started hitting me.”
Pakada managed to take a few steps back from the officer and picked up a stone from the ground. “I was afraid,” he told Ynet, “and the policeman threatened to shoot me.” As more police officers came to the scene, Pakada was arrested and later accused of assaulting an officer.
The seemingly unprovoked police brutality against Pakada was filmed by a neighbor, reached the media and became viral within a day.