After violent protest at L.A. synagogue, city needs new rules – The Forward

After violent protest at L.A. synagogue, city needs new rules – The Forward

After violent protest at L.A. synagogue, city needs new rules – The Forward

Does the Los Angeles Police Department watch the news? Does the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office follow social networks? Does anyone in charge of keeping Los Angeles safe know there’s a war in the Middle East?

When Protesters gathered at the Adas Shalom synagogue. In the city’s Pico-Robertson neighborhood last Sunday, it turned into an entirely predictable riot: with fights, tackles, bear spray and mace, throwing objects and nasty insults. We can only be grateful that the violence that resulted left no one seriously injured or dead.

I have no doubt that next time we won’t be so lucky.

Congratulations to Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. for his announcement on Monday that the city examine the rules governing demonstrations, including “looking at people wearing masks at protests.”

But as you peruse and look, I have a question: Why are people allowed to gather and harass others outside their place of worship?

Why can’t the Los Angeles Police Department, when it had several days of advance warning, have a plan to keep protesters away from a place of worship and deploy sufficient forces to keep protesters and counterprotesters separated?

“A mega Zionist real estate event will be held in Los Angeles this week,” said one instagram post from the group Code Pink on Friday, two days before the protest targeted a briefing on the sale of homes and land in Israel, and a property in the West Bank was offered for sale. “Bring flags, signs and megaphones. There is no peace on stolen lands.” That same day, a call from the Palestinian Youth Movement for protesters to converge on Adas Shalom began appearing on X and Facebook.

When Sunday arrived, there were already dozens of comments on that post and others. In recent months in Los Angeles, violence has accompanied protests and counter protests at UCLA and at USC. Protesters closed Highway 110 through downtown and there was an anti-Israel camp. in front of the town hall that the Los Angeles police had to be called to clarify it. So it’s hard to understand why city officials before Sunday would take what was essentially a wait-and-see approach.

The nature of all these protests is to maximize virality. The outrage algorithms at Instagram, X, and Facebook are willing accomplices. The louder you shout, the more comments and likes.

It is a waste of space to berate the protesters themselves, who were not there to draw attention to the suffering of Gaza, but to protest legal land sales in a foreign country. (They then returned to their homes built on land (I shouldn’t have to point this out) that was illegally taken from the Native Americans.)

The First Amendment protects your right to protest. But that right is subject to reasonable restrictions on the time, place and form of protest.

“Part of those rules can and should be that you will not disrupt or prevent worship services from taking place, and you will not prevent people from entering or leaving places of worship,” he said. Doug Mirrell, board member of the ACLU of Southern California. “That would be a reasonable time, place and manner restriction.”

If the Los Angeles Police Department does not enforce those restrictions, any victims of these protests can invoke California law. Ralph Civil Rights Act, which It protects the faithful from being attacked and harassed.

Protesters said synagogues were legitimate targets because they hosted information sessions on buying real estate in Israel. But the Ralph Law does not specify what types of activities inside a place of worship are protected, only that those who enter them cannot be subject to harassment.

How would protesters know who showed up on Sunday to buy an apartment in Tel Aviv and who was waiting to receive rabbi counseling, seek refuge from an abusive marriage, or study Torah?

And wouldn’t Adas Israel protesters be equally angry if a large, angry crowd with megaphones gathered outside a mosque? Of course they would.

Would counterprotesters defending the mosque take to the streets? Of course they would, just like they did on Sunday.

I have seen videos posted by both parties. It is impossible to distinguish who threw the first punches, or the first egg, or who shouted the first inflammatory insult. Many of the counterprotesters arrived draped in Israeli flags and carrying their own megaphones. They read social media posts that cops missed.

If city officials are unwilling to stop these types of gatherings, the Los Angeles Police Department has to do a better job of policing them and separating the sides. People traumatized by the war in Gaza and Israel are unleashing their passions on the streets of Los Angeles. That’s understandable. But the violence is only going to increase.

After Sunday’s fight, an advocate for counterprotesters posted on Instagram that it’s time for Jewish Angelenos to get guns. In America, when people feel abused by the First Amendment, they too often turn to the Second, and that escalation is what smarter, more immediate municipal laws and enforcement can prevent.

“Members of the Jewish community have the right to access their place of worship without intimidation, fear or being attacked by misguided thugs who give themselves license to be rude in the name of Palestine or Gaza,” he tweeted Ahmed Fouad Alkhatiba Palestinian born in Gaza who lives in the Bay Area, whose relatives have been killed by Israeli airstrikes. (Alkhatib is a Forward contributor.) Protesters “decided to use pepper spray, wear masks, shout with megaphones and confront people. Because? How does that help the message?”

I doubt the people who came to Pico-Robertson will heed the plea of ​​a real Gazan. The war between Israel and the Palestinians will inevitably lead to more protests and counter-protests. Our city’s mayor, officials and law enforcement must act quickly to prevent the war there from triggering widespread violence here.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you leave, I would like to ask you to support the Forward’s nonprofit, award-winning journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or downsizing, the Forward removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and across the United States on the impact of war, rising anti-Semitism and campus protests university students.

Readers like you make everything possible. Support our work by becoming an advanced member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become Forward member today. You will support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly.

—Rachel Fishman Feddersen, editor and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.