Government Leaders Respond to Violence in the Pico-Robertson District

A pro-Palestine demonstration in the Pico-Robertson district became violent on the morning of June 23 after counter-demonstrators yielding Israeli flags met them in front of the Adas Torah synagogue. What started as a verbal dispute quickly turned into physical violence when demonstrators began throwing punches, kicking each other and spraying chemical agents. Police arrived at the scene in riot gear and arrested one person for carrying a spiked flag, which is prohibited at a public demonstration. 

The demonstrations began when supporters of Palestine gathered at the synagogue to protest a real estate event being held at the facility that included “representatives of housing projects in all the best Anglo neighborhoods in Israel,” according to an advertisement for the event. Pro-Palestine groups slammed the event on social media before showing up to the event and blocking the entrance. “Racist settler expansionists are not welcome in Los Angeles,” the Palestinian Youth Movement posted on Instagram. Supporters of both Israel and Palestine marched through surrounding neighborhoods and made their way into Beverly Hills via Almont Drive and Olympic Boulevard before heading to Doheny Drive. A video posted on the social media platform X shows Beverly Hills Police officers arresting a man with a face covering in support of Palestine.

Beverly Hills Police Captain Giovanni Trejo explained that nearly 100 demonstrators walked through the city disrupting traffic on busy streets, before quickly returning to LAPD’s jurisdiction. “There was one arrest, and the arrest was made for the person delaying and obstructing a police investigation,” Trejo told the Courier.

Government leaders were quick to condemn the violence. After hearing helicopters and chanting from his home only a few blocks away from the synagogue, Beverly Hills Councilmember John Mirisch approached the scene by foot to see what was going on. 

By the time he arrived, LAPD had already blocked off the synagogue and Magen Am, a volunteer Jewish safety organization, was working to protect the neighborhood, but demonstrators still surrounded the area. Though the epicenter of the incident was outside of Beverly Hills, Mirisch emphasized the fact that it was only a block away. 

“Beverly Hills is one of the few Jewish majority cities outside of Israel, and I’ll be damned if we’re going to tolerate any kind of Jew-hating racists who come to our town to make mischief and to intimidate our residents,” he said. “It’s not going to happen. And it’s sad that we’re just experiencing this unprecedented explosion of anti-Jewish racism. Our community needs to stick together more than ever.”

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass expressed similar concerns. 

“Today’s violence in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood was abhorrent, and blocking access to a place of worship is unacceptable,” she said in a statement. 

Governor Gavin Newsom responded to the demonstrations on social media on June 24. “The violent clashes outside the Adas Torah synagogue in Los Angeles are appalling,” he wrote. “There is no excuse for targeting a house of worship. Such antisemitic hatred has no place in California.”

The California Legislative Jewish Caucus released a statement of support for victims of Jewish hatred. “We are grateful that our state budget agreement includes a record $160 million for nonprofit security grants,” it said. “This funding is vital to protecting the Jewish community and others targeted by hate. We remain committed to doing everything in our power to protect the Jewish community and to ensuring that Californians of all faiths and backgrounds can live without fear of violence and harassment.”

LAPD Interim Chief Dominic Choi and Bass spoke at the Museum of Tolerance on June 24 about threats to safety throughout some of Los Angeles’ most prominent Jewish neighborhoods as a result of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The meeting was convened by Jewish Federation Los Angeles (JFEDLA), which continues to search for a solution to ending antisemitic violence while acknowledging the constitutional right to protest. “Our Community Security Initiative is in constant communication with our local law enforcement partners and Jewish institutions to protect our community and bring the perpetrators of yesterday’s violence to justice,” said Aram Goldberg, senior vice president of public relations and media strategy at JFEDLA, in a press release. “We are conducting security briefings and coordinating with our federal, state and local elected officials to create an action plan to further safeguard our Jewish community.”

During the meeting at the Museum of Tolerance, Bass announced that she will be taking immediate action to convene leaders of houses of worship and cultural centers to discuss how to protect sacred spaces, sharing ideas, practices and strategies to keep congregants safe. She will also work with state representatives like Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel to secure funding to protect houses of worship in Los Angeles.

Though the city of L.A. and the state already provide security funding, Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, who represents the Pico-Robertson district, will be introducing an urgent motion to work to secure additional funding to prevent a similar situation from taking place. Additionally, the LAPD will work with Jewish public safety organizations to continually review evolving tactics and threats to the community and take proactive action to prevent these instances from happening again.

“This violence was designed to stoke fear. It was designed to divide,” said Mayor Bass. “But hear me loud and clear—it will fail. In less than 24 hours of yesterday’s incident, we’ve worked to convene faith leaders, community groups and law enforcement to have constructive conversations working on ensuring this does not happen again. Los Angeles will not stand or tolerate violence.” 

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