Details on Identities of the Violent Pro-Israel Protesters at UCLA?

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

This is a brief follow up on my post earlier that touched on the violence on Tuesday night at UCLA. As I noted, and has been widely reported, on Tuesday night a small contingent pro-Israel counter-protesters attacked the Gaza encampment on campus. This group appears to have been willfully violent and focused on tearing down the barricades of the encampment, throwing various projectiles at pro-Gaza demonstrators, throwing anywhere from one to four firecrackers into the encampment and using something like pepper spray or other similarly noxious spray on people in the encampment. In short, a group of vigilantes or thugs who went in to break up the encampment and terrorize the protestors.

But as far as I can tell there’s no clear information on who these people were. And I’ve seen no evidence that any of them were or have been arrested.

There seems to be uniform agreement that they didn’t appear to be students and that they were mostly or all men. But from there any agreement breaks down. One spokesperson for the encampment said they appeared to be teenage boys. Another witness said they appeared to be grown men, and too old to be students. These contradictory accounts aren’t surprising. It was nighttime. The thugs were wearing balaclavas or other face coverings and it was a chaotic situation. But it seems important to have some sense of who these people were, not only so they can be arrested and punished but for our general understanding of what happened.

This article in The Forward is by a Jewish UCLA history professor, David N. Myers, who was at the daytime demonstrations and counter-demonstrations and was one of several professors who interposed themselves between the two groups to try to deescalate the situation. He has this paragraph about the Tuesday night violence.

I do not know whether there was overlap between the counterdemonstrators on Sunday and those who provoked last night’s violence, who carried Israeli and American flags, as well as at least one Chabad flag celebrating “Mashiach,” or the Messiah. But the behavior of the two groups bore striking similarities, making it all the more unsettling that UCLA wasn’t better prepared.

Some subset of the daytime counter-protestors seems like the most logical place to start. But Myers appeared to be talking about general similarities and, if I’m understanding him right, suggested the connection mainly to argue that university administrators had reason to think something like this was coming and should have been more prepared.

In any case, this was a pretty big deal. So I’m surprised that we still don’t seem to know the actual identities of these people and that — at least as far as I can tell — there have yet to be any arrests. If you’ve seen news reports that shed light on this can you send them in?

Latest Editors' Blog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: