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"We Joined a Protest against Violence and They Arrested our Children"

The police arrested 11-13 year-old boys on Monday and held them for hours before a judge ordered them released. Some were taken from their homes, others from their classrooms. They were falsely charged with throwing rocks at officers. In fact, the children who were arrested were not even present at the protest that took place Sunday evening in Lod, and it quickly became apparent that no rocks were thrown.

The protest held Sunday evening was, in fact, a peaceful demonstration against the violence that has racked the Arab communities. Protests included chants, red paint and women lying on the ground to symbolize the number of people who have been killed this year in senseless acts of violence. "It was the first time that men and boys joined the women in protesting," says Samah Salaime, head of Na'am Arab Women in the Center. "We cannot separate the killing of women from the killing of teenage boys or whole families. It felt as though we could really get our message across by all standing together."

There was a large police/border guard contingent surrounding the demonstration, and they had little to do until Jewish right-wing anti-Arab protesters showed up to provoke and incite. Unfortunately, instead of separating the two groups and keeping the lawful, peaceful protesters safe, they decided to accuse some boys who had been in the nearby community center of throwing rocks.

Salaime vows that the demonstrations will continue until the police realize their role is to defend all citizens of the state equally and to work within the communities to put an end to the violence.

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