Jewish man allegedly struck in head by pro-Palestinian protester in Los Angeles dies of wounds

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

A Jewish man falls to the ground after allegedly being struck with a megaphone by an anti-Israel protester in Los Angeles on November 5, 2023. (Screen capture/X)
A Jewish man falls to the ground after allegedly being struck with a megaphone by an anti-Israel protester in Los Angeles on November 5, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

An elderly Jewish man has succumbed to his wounds, a day after an altercation with pro-Palestinian protesters in the Los Angeles area.

The 69-year-old man identified as Paul Kessler fell and hit his head following a confrontation during competing pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations in suburban Los Angeles, authorities said.

Kessler’s death was being investigated as a homicide and authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility a hate crime occurred, said a statement from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. No arrests had been made.

An autopsy was performed on November 6 has determined that the cause of death to be “blunt force head injury and the manner of death homicide,” according to the police.

Kessler was injured shortly before 3:30 p.m. Sunday during competing demonstrations in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 125,000 northwest of Los Angeles. Police received reports that a battery had occurred and deputies sent to the scene found Kessler suffering from a head wound, the department says.

“Witness accounts indicated that Kessler was involved in a physical altercation with counter-protestor(s). During the altercation, Kessler fell backwards and struck his head on the ground,” the department says.

According to a statement by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the man was struck in the head with a megaphone held by one of the pro-Palestinian protesters in Westlake Village.

“While we wait for more information from our law enforcement partners, we remind you that this is the fourth major antisemitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year alone,” the local federation says in a statement. “Violence against our people has no place in civilized society. We demand safety. We will not tolerate violence against our community. We will do everything in our power to prevent it.”

Police is set to hold a press conference on the investigation later today at 10:00 a.m. local time in Los Angeles (8:00 p.m. in Israel)

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