A Federal Protective Service Agent has been placed on administrative leave for firing his weapon during a clash between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel ralliers in Westwood on Sunday.
The confrontation took place in front of the federal building on Wilshire Boulevard, following what was deemed the largest ever turnout in Los Angeles for a peaceful pro-Israel rally. There were nearly 3,000 attendees.
The officer shot his gun into the air after a truck full of pro-Palestinian protesters, who allegedly assaulted a group of pro-Israel demonstrators, tried to flee the scene, reports the Los Angeles Times. Sheriff’s officials have removed the gun from the federal agent’s possession, as authorities investigate his motive for firing the weapon. The Times notes that the Federal Protective Service is conducting a separate use-of-force review into the matter.
The skirmish occurred after a group of Palestinian supporters drove down Wilshire in a truck which was draped with a Palestinian flag that was then ripped from the truck and stomped on by a group of Israel supporters. In a similar rally in San Francisco the day before, a group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators set fire to the flag of Israel.
The group of men then dismantled the truck and reportedly began striking pro-Israel demonstrators with the wooden sticks from their flags. When they tried to flee the scene, the federal agent fired his gun.
A witness at the rally told the Times that the men “were looking for a fight” and that they had been taunting and agitating the crowd of Israel supporters before the confrontation turned physical.
Los Angeles Police reportedly caught up with the four men, who had driven up from Orange County, and arrested them. Mostadafa Gamaleldin Hafez, Hassan Mustapha Kreidieh, Mohammed Said Elkhatib, and Fadi Ali Obeidallah were booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and released Monday morning after each posted $30,000 bail, the Times notes.