Another Pride March protester awarded compensation

Honenu has represented many citizens whose fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of protest, have been violated with regard to pride marches. Please click here for a list of relevant posts.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 11:51 Jerusalem Small Claims Court Judge Shai Tzarfati imposed payment of 3,000 NIS on the police to compensate a right-wing activist for unjustified detention while he was on his way to a legal demonstration protesting the Jerusalem Pride March approximately one year ago.

As the activist approached an area authorized by the Israel Police for a demonstration protesting the Jerusalem Pride March, he reached a police barrier. The policemen asked him to present identification and then ordered him to wait. Suddenly, one of them grabbed his cell phone and informed him that he was being detained. Several minutes later, he was loaded into a police car. The policemen did not identify themselves and did not inform him of the grounds for his detention. During the ride to the police station, the policemen told him that he was suspected of disturbing public order. The activist asserted that he had not come to disturb public order, only to protest. The policemen searched his bag and demanded a body search. The activist refused, claiming that the policemen did not have the required authority. They threatened him with arrest if he did not agree to the body search. At this point, the activist was handcuffed and interrogated. He was released several hours later, after the march was over.

The ruling indicates that the activist recorded a video of the incident and that the video supports his testimony that he came to the site in order to protest, and not to incite trouble or to disturb the police. Judge Tzarfati leveled criticism at the police and wrote: “I am of the opinion that under the circumstances of the incident there were no grounds to detain the claimant. I am of the opinion that under the circumstances in question the defendant [the police] should have been satisfied with a short delay allowing time for a search of the claimant’s bag, a body search, and an interrogation, at the completion of which the claimant would be able to protest and to realize his rights to freedom of expression and freedom to protest. I am of the opinion that there were no grounds to handcuff the claimant at the Lev HaBira Police Station because according to the entirety of the evidence before me there was no concern of violence on his part.”

Judge Tzarfati also wrote that the police treated the right-wing activist heavy-handedly and therefore must compensate him: “I am of the opinion that the defendant went too far with the drastic steps they took against the claimant under the circumstances of the incident. In light of the fact that the defendant detained the suspect, handcuffed him, and held him for an unreasonable length of time, exceeding what was necessary, and thus prevented him from participating in the protest, there are grounds for them to compensate the claimant.”

Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel stated, “Again, the court ruled that the police acted illegally by using drastic and disproportionate measures while detaining a demonstrator who came to legally protest the [Jerusalem] Pride March. This award of compensation is one of a long series of rulings that we have received regarding false detentions such as this. We expect the police to have the sense to honor the court’s ruling this time and to immediately stop violating the right to protest of the public that wishes to legally demonstrate against the Pride March.”

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