In a recent incident near the Israeli Consulate Building on Spring Street in Atlanta, a security guard displayed incredible bravery while attempting to save a protester’s life. The story unfolds with a mixture of heroism and tragedy, highlighting the complex nature of political protests in today’s world.
The Heroic Act
Michael Harris, an Army veteran working as a security guard, received reports of a protester dousing herself with gasoline near the consulate building. Without hesitation, he rushed to intervene, driven by his instincts to save a life. However, what followed was a harrowing turn of events. As Harris tried to stop the protester, she set herself on fire, leading to both of them suffering severe second and third-degree burns.
A Family’s Perspective
Romona Kea, speaking on behalf of the family, described how her brother-in-law, Michael Harris, went above and beyond his duty as a security guard. She mentioned that Harris’s immediate reaction to try and save the protester’s life reflects his deep sense of responsibility and commitment.
“My husband is an Army Vet, and his instincts kicked in to try to save the woman’s life,” the family wrote on an online fundraiser.
Law Enforcement’s Response
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum described this incident as a likely extreme act of political protest. He noted that the protester had been wrapped in a Palestinian flag when the fire started, indicating a politically charged motive. However, Schierbaum also emphasized that law enforcement agencies 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.”
An International Perspective
Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States, expressed her sadness over the incident and condemned the act of self-immolation as a form of hate and incitement. She also extended her prayers and gratitude to the security officer who risked his life to prevent the tragic act.
“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,” Sultan-Dadon stated.