ATLANTA — Police said a protester set him or herself on fire outside a Midtown office building that is home to the Israeli Consulate Friday afternoon, leaving two people injured.
Police said that around 12:15 p.m., a protester arrived outside the building at 1100 Spring Street at set him or herself on fire using gasoline as an accelerant. A security guard nearby saw what was happening and rushed to try to put out the flames. He was left with burns on his wrists and leg.
The protester sustained full-thickness burns all over his or her body and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. That person’s identity has not been released. The security guard’s name and condition have also not been released.
“This was likely an extreme act of political protest,” Atlanta police Chief Darin Schierbaum said. “The individual that was injured was an individual that was carrying out a protest.”
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Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln was at the scene, where Schierbaum said that a Palestinian flag was recovered after the fire.
Schierbaum said police are aware of the tensions in the Jewish and Muslim communities but believe this was an isolated incident.
“We have dedicated patrols that are occurring at this location and other locations across the city,” Schierbaum said. “We continue to ensure that everyone is protected in Atlanta, Georgia, regardless of your religion, your heritage or your nationality.”
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A Channel 2 Action News photographer was at the scene, where it appeared there were at least two burned articles of clothing.
The building is home to several businesses including Selig, ParkMobile and Cognosos as well as the offices of the Israeli Consulate.
Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States issued a statement Friday night, writing:
“We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way. The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”
Atlanta police, Atlanta Fire Rescue as well as FBI and ATF agents are all investigating.
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