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Fights break out during dueling protests in Pico-Robertson

City leaders call for peace day after violent counter protests outside synagogue
City leaders call for peace day after violent counter protests outside synagogue 03:31

Scattered bouts of violence and fist fights broke out during dueling protests over the fighting in the Middle East in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Pico-Robertson on Sunday.

Los Angeles Police Department officers were first sent to the 9000 block of Pico Boulevard after learning of the ongoing incident, according to officers. 

It reportedly began when pro-Palestinian supporters gathered outside of the Adas Torah synagogue and attempted to block the entrance, where they were promptly met by pro-Israel demonstrators. 

Both sides could be seen carrying flags and signs supporting their individual causes. 

SkyCal flew overhead as the protests escalated into violence at times, with people throwing kicks and punches as the large group of people moved through the streets in the area. 

"Doesn't belong here," said Rabbi Hertzel Illulian when asked about the violence in the area. "I don't think the Jewish would go in front of a mosque or the Christian people would go in front of a mosque to do such a thing, nobody would accept this, but here, when it comes to Jews and Israel everything is kosher, everything is okay."

LAPD officers wearing riot gear formed skirmish lines and declared unlawful assembly at one point. Despite this, the chaos continued for hours, lasting until around 5 p.m. Sunday evening. 

Different video showed as a swarm of LAPD officers with guns drawn detained two people who were shouting at protesters from inside of a Range Rover. After the two adults were put in handcuffs, officers could be seen taking a toddler sitting in a carseat from the back of the car.

A large amount of LAPD officers could be seen as they worked to break up the gathering. 

After the incident, the United Jewish Coalition issued a statement, which read in part:

"The Jews of Los Angeles are no longer safe. The events of June 23rd brought to life the darkest nightmare many of us hoped we would never witness on American soil."

Synagogue leaders say that there was an event being held for people interested in purchasing a home in Israel. 

Hussam Alyoush, the Executive Director of the Counsel of Islamic Relations says he condemns the violence from all sides.

"All places of worship should be safe," he said. "Safe from being violated, being targeted."

However, he condemned what he alleged was the nature of the event. 

"This is about stealing land or selling stolen land in order to build racially segregated settlements," he said. 

LAPD says that one person was arrested during the incident. They were released early Monday morning after being cited.

"The Los Angeles Police Department will be investigating ... two reported batteries," said a statement from the department.
"We will always protect the First Amendment rights of those wanting to protest. Violence and crime however, will not be tolerated. 

They added additional patrols to the area, and other "sensitive religious sites" to ensure the safety of the public, the statement said.

No major injuries were reported, but various demonstrators could be seen tending to their wounds as SkyCal continued to fly over the area throughout the early evening.

After the chaos subsided, political leaders and city officials began to react to the news. 

President Joe Biden issued his thoughts on X. 

"I'm appalled by the scenes outside of Adas Torah synagogue in Los Angeles," Biden said. "Intimidating Jewish congregants is dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic, and un-American."

Late Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement on the day. 

"The violent clashes outside the Adas Torah synagogue in Los Angeles are appalling. There is no excuse for targeting a house of worship. Such antisemitic hatred has no place in California," said his post on X

LA Mayor Karen Bass also issued a statement, which said: 

"Today's violence in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood today was abhorrent, and blocking access to a place of worship is unacceptable. I've called on LAPD to provide additional patrols in the Pico-Robertson community as well as outside of houses of worship throughout the city. I'll be meeting with Chief Choi tomorrow to further discuss the safety of Angelenos.

I want to be clear that Los Angeles will not be a harbor for antisemitism and violence. Those responsible for either will be found and held accountable. I will be joining Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, the Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Federation Los Angeles Rabbi Noah Farkas and other law enforcement and faith leaders in a community meeting as we talk about steps forward, together."

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