Rally held outside Israeli Consulate over West Bank shooting

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By Rebecca Bowe

At least 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli Consulate on Montgomery Street in downtown San Francisco March 16 for a rally and march organized by friends and supporters of Oakland activist Tristan Anderson, who was critically wounded in the West Bank by Israeli Defense Forces on March 13.

Anderson, 38, was shot in the head with a high-velocity teargas canister while demonstrating against a wall that is being constructed through the West Bank village of Ni’lin. He was transported to a hospital in Israel, where he underwent brain surgery the following day. He remains in stable, yet very serious condition, according to demonstrator David Martinez.

He and his girlfriend, Gabrielle Silverman, had traveled to the West Bank several weeks earlier to join with efforts of the International Solidarity Movement. A protester who identified himself only as Ayr, who said he’s known Anderson for some 14 years, told the Guardian what Silverman had recounted to him about the shooting, which she witnessed from several feet away.

“They hold demonstrations every Friday, and mainly they go where they’re building the wall in the village of Ni’lin,” Ayr explained. “The demonstration was winding down. Tristan was actually just standing around taking some pictures that he would post on IndyBay, and then he got shot in the head -- without reason.” He added that the ambulance was detained for 15 minutes at a checkpoint. “Gaby was yelling, hey, let this guy through, he’s bleeding from the head.”

Silverman, who has remained at the hospital in Israel, called in during the rally, and protest organizers amplified the call over a speaker so that she could address the crowd. “Tristan was shot in the head for either one of two reasons: Either because they believed that he was Palestinian, or because the army was shooting indiscriminately into the crowd,” she said. “I have a lot of rage and a lot of sadness right now, and part of what I’m focusing on is the end of the use of these weapons at demonstrations in the West Bank in Palestine.” She noted that three others taking part in the demonstrations in Ni’lin have been wounded by teargas canisters, including a young boy, possibly 10 years old.

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A short time after the rally and march had ended, a small group of demonstrators got into a scuffle with San Francisco police officers outside the Israeli Consulate. “There were five arrests made, and two who were cited and released,” Sgt. Wilfred Wilkins told the Guardian. The range of charges included resisting arrest, vandalism, assault with a deadly weapon, battery on a police officer, and attempting to free a protester who had just been arrested.

Ayr, who was one of the two who was cited and released, later told the Guardian that “we were in front of the consulate and the police rushed us and started swinging clubs.” He said one demonstrator, who was not arrested, was injured and had to go to the hospital. Wilkins said he did not have enough information to confirm this account or offer any explanation.

Anderson’s activism took him to political demonstrations all over the world. He is well known throughout the Bay Area for his work on causes including the Berkeley tree sits, Free Radio Berkeley, Food Not Bombs, and Critical Mass.

According to a report on Democracy Now, the US Consul General is still awaiting an investigative report about the shooting from the Israeli government.

Photos by Rebecca Bowe