In a shocking incident outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, a protester is currently in critical condition after setting themselves on fire in what authorities are describing as an “extreme” political statement. The incident occurred around noon (1700 GMT), drawing attention to the presence of a Palestinian flag at the protest.
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum characterized the act as “likely an extreme act of political protest.” Emergency first responders reported that a security guard also sustained injuries while attempting to intervene. Both the protester and the security guard suffered burns and were rushed to the hospital.
Atlanta Fire Chief Roderick Smith, addressing the media, did not disclose the age or gender of the protester but confirmed the severity of the injuries, describing them as “full thickness” burns. The security guard, in attempting to thwart the self-immolation, suffered burns on the wrist and leg.
According to Smith, the security guard noticed the individual’s attempt to set themselves on fire shortly after their arrival outside the consulate building. Despite immediate intervention, the guard was unable to prevent the incident.
Atlanta Police Chief Schierbaum highlighted ongoing security measures, stating, “We actually have dedicated patrols that are occurring at this location and other Jewish and Muslim communities in the city.”
This disturbing event comes amidst a backdrop of rising tensions in the United States, marked by an increase in anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic threats and violence since the onset of Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza in October. Recent incidents include a shooting in Vermont, where a man was charged with attempted murder against three individuals of Palestinian descent, and the tragic stabbing death of a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy in Illinois in October. The authorities are actively investigating the circumstances surrounding the self-immolation and its political motivations.