Pro-Palestinian protest erupts in clashes in front of Pico-Robertson synagogue

President Biden responded to the violence, saying he was "appalled by the scenes" outside the synagogue.

ByABC7.com staff and Monica De Anda KABC logo
Monday, June 24, 2024
Pro-Palestinian protest erupts in clashes in front of LA synagogue
Violent clashes broke out near the Adas Torah synagogue in the Pico-Robertson area as pro-Palestinian protesters encountered counter-protesters.

PICO-ROBERTSON, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Violent clashes broke out in the Pico-Robertson area as pro-Palestinian protesters encountered counter-protesters, prompting L.A. Mayor Karen Bass to call for beefed up security at places of worship throughout the city.

The violence happened outside the Adas Torah synagogue on Pico Boulevard Sunday morning. Police in riot gear showed up in an attempt to restore order.

What started as heated verbal confrontations escalated into physical fighting. Videos posted to social media showed punches being thrown, people wrestled to the ground and kicked. Some social media posts indicated it started when pro-Palestinian protesters tried to prevent people from entering the synagogue.

Violent clashes broke out in the Pico-Robertson area as pro-Palestinian protesters encountered counter-protesters.

The synagogue's rabbi called the violence a provocation and a violation.

"People were scared to come in, people were prevented from coming in. We had to sneak our members inside for prayers... Protesting like that is really a violation of a holy space," said Rabbi Dovid Revah.

Police are investigating two reported batteries and say one person was arrested for possession of a prohibited item: a "spiked flag."

President Biden, L.A. officials react to violence

President Joe Biden on Monday responded to the violence in a post on X, saying he was "appalled by the scenes" outside the synagogue.

"Intimidating Jewish congregants is dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic, and un-American. Americans have a right to peaceful protest. But blocking access to a house of worship - and engaging in violence - is never acceptable."

Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement Sunday night condemning the violence.

"Today's violence in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood today was abhorrent, and blocking access to a place of worship is unacceptable," Bass said. "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 (interim) Chief (Dominic) 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."

Yaroslavsky, whose Fifth District includes the heavily Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood said in a statement, "The antisemitic violence that broke out this afternoon in Pico Robertson would have been completely unacceptable anywhere in Los Angeles, but that it was planned and carried out in front of a synagogue in the heart of LA's Jewish community should be deeply concerning to us all."

"Everyone has the right to protest, and everyone also has the right to be safe from fear and violence. We deserve answers for how this situation escalated."

Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote in a post on the social platform X that "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."

Jewish Federation of Los Angeles issued a statement saying it its Community Security Initiative was "monitoring the situation and working with our local law enforcement partners to make sure our community are kept safe."

The initiative began in 2012 in an attempt to combat the rising threat of terrorism and works to protect every Jewish school, synagogue, summer camp and organization in Los Angeles County.

City News Service contributed to this report.