A Jewish man in his late 60s (reports about age vary), Paul Kessler, has died after being struck by a pro-Palestinian protestor in Westlake Village (a city in Los Angeles County) yesterday afternoon.
Reports are still sketchy. But there were apparently dueling demonstrations at an intersection in Westlake Village. There was some sort of interaction between one or more pro-Palestinian demonstrators and Kessler, a pro-Israel demonstrator. The pro-Palestinian demonstrator apparently hit Kessler on the head with a megaphone. Kessler then fell back and hit his head on the concrete. Looking at all the reports together, it seems like hitting his head on the concrete may have been the injury that eventually killed Kessler. Not all reports include the hit with the megaphone. Some simply report a scuffle which led to Kessler’s fall.
Commander Jeremy Paris of the Thousand Oaks Police Department told The Acorn that it was primarily a pro-Palestinian protest with a smaller number of pro-Israel counter-protestors. It was not clear who initiated the altercation, according to Paris.
Reports remain incomplete and to a degree contradictory. So we should wait to hear more details. For now the county coroner has ruled the death a homicide from blunt force trauma to the head.
Late Update: Let me share some updated information as of this morning. My intent has been to be as specific as possible about the reports, especially details which may help distinguish between a scuffle with tragic consequences and a violent assault. Today The New York Times interviews a man, Jonathan Oswaks, who was there protesting with Kessler. He says he saw the other man swing his megaphone at Kessler before he fell to the ground but couldn’t be sure if it hit him. The LA Times reports that sheriffs deputies say that man struck Kessler knocking him to the ground. So it seems clear the pro-Palestinian protestor struck Kessler, though there’s still some fuzziness there. Other reports make clear that the Sheriff’s Department knows the identity of the other man and has spoken to him. But as yet there have been no arrests.
It seems authorities may know a good deal more than is yet public. According to this article, Kessler was recording the incident as it happened on his cell phone and Sheriffs deputies have recovered that video.