Video documents US demonstrator's arrest in east J'lem

Jewish left-wing activist Lucas Koerner was detained for disturbing the peace after allegedly harassing marchers on Jerusalem Day.

June 13, 2011 17:58
3 minute read.
Lucas Koerner arrested during Jerusalem Day.

Lucas Koerner_311. (photo credit: Screenshot)


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The video of a young American Jewish activist who was forcefully arrested on Jerusalem Day near Damascus Gate has been garnering attention in the pro-Palestinian blogosphere in the past 24 hours.

Lucas Koerner, a sophomore at Tufts University majoring in International Relations and Spanish, was dressed in a kippa and a keffiyeh as he shouted at passersby in the Flag March that “the occupation is ethically reprehensible.”

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Activists clash with Border Police at Kalandia crossing
Left-wing activists scuffle with police in east Jerusalem

“Israel is occupying the Palestinians in my name, in the name of world Jewry,” said Koerner, waving his American passport. “And I, myself, an American Jew, am here to say that it is completely unjustified!” Koerner was unaffiliated with any Israeli activist organizations, and apparently had come to Israel on an organized program.

Damascus Gate was the site of rock throwing, high tension and multiple arrests during Jerusalem Day’s Flag March. Twenty-four people were arrested and three were injured over the course of the holiday.

The police said they asked Koerner to stop harassing the marchers, which is not shown on the video. When Koerner refused to give the police his passport, they arrested him for disturbing the peace. The arrest, which involved multiple policemen, was filmed by Palestinian activists.

Koerner wrote on his Facebook page that he “went limp” to resist arrest.

A video of the arrest shows policemen wrestling him to the ground roughly and forcefully dragging him into a police vehicle, where it took five officers to force him into the van.

Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben- Ruby told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that Koerner bit a police officer during the course of his arrest, a fact which Koerner denied. He said the officer’s injuries were from something else.

“The video doesn’t excite me,” Ben-Ruby said. “It was taken after he was told he was arrested, he refused to cooperate with the police, and he bit a policeman, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t arrest him with force.”

Koerner was held in detention for less than 48 hours, at which point a judge from the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court declined to extend his detention until a trial.

Koerner’s lawyer encouraged him to leave the country immediately, which he did. Ben-Ruby said that if Koerner returns to Israel, he will be arrested upon entry and detained until he faces trial.

The force employed by the officers during the arrest is typical for what left-wing activists encounter during protests, which have turned more violent in the past month.

Assaf Sharon, an activist with the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, said the video was garnering a large response because it involved an American and was disseminated internationally.

Though the organization has similar videos showing comparable violence, none of their videos have created waves.

“We don’t expect much from America, we don’t send our videos outside, so our community is much smaller anyways,” Sharon said.

The video has almost a quarter of a million hits on YouTube. Koerner immediately created a Facebook page “We Are All Lucas Koerner,” in reference to the Egyptian Facebook group “We Are All Khaled Said,” a group that helped spark the January 25 revolution in Tahrir Square and has almost 125,000 members. Sixty-four people have joined Koerner’s group.

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