On Friday, a demonstrator near the Israeli consulate in Atlanta was critically injured after intentionally setting themselves on fire, a move police suggested was a highly impactful political gesture.
“A Palestinian flag was reported at the location and was part of the protest,” said Darin Schierbaum, police chief of the southern US city.
He said the incident was “likely an extreme act of political protest.”
Emergency first responders reported that a security guard sustained injuries while attempting to intervene and stop the protester.
“Both individuals sustained burns,” Atlanta Fire Chief Roderick Smith told journalists.
“The security guard noticed that the individual was attempting to set themselves afire” shortly after the protester arrived outside the consulate building around noon (1700 GMT), Smith said.
The guard “immediately attempted but failed to stop the individual.”
The guard was burned on his wrist and leg, Smith said, while the protester was in critical condition with “full thickness” burns to their body. Both were taken to the hospital, he added.
“We actually have dedicated patrols that are occurring at this location and other Jewish and Muslim communities in the city,” Schierbaum added.
There has been an increase in Anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic threats and violence in the United States since the commencement of Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza in October.
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