69-Year-Old Jewish Man Dies After Fight With Pro-Palestinian Protester in California

69-Year-Old Jewish Man Dies After Fight With Pro-Palestinian Protester in California

People demonstrate calling for the end of what they call the Israeli occupation of Palestine, in Los Angeles on Oct. 12, 2023. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

11/6/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

A 69-year-old man demonstrating in support of Israel died Nov. 6 after sustaining a head injury during a fight with a pro-Palestinian protester at a weekend rally in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The Ventura County medical examiner has ruled Paul Kessler’s death a homicide, and the county sheriff’s office has not ruled out a hate crime. Mr. Kessler was Jewish, according to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
Officials say Mr. Kessler was attending the rally Sunday afternoon when he became involved in an altercation with a counter-protester who was demonstrating nearby at a pro-Palestinian event.
The incident happened at the intersection of Westlake Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Ventura County.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office responded to the altercation after several citizens called 9-1-1 to report a battery at about 3:20 p.m.
Deputies arrived to find Mr. Kessler suffering from a head injury. Witnesses told police he fell backwards during the fight and struck his head on the ground. He was taken to an area hospital for treatment but succumbed to his injuries Monday, the sheriff’s office reported.
A demonstrator waves an Israeli flag during a rally in solidarity with Israel in Los Angeles Oct. 10, 2023. (Ethan Swope/Getty Images)

A demonstrator waves an Israeli flag during a rally in solidarity with Israel in Los Angeles Oct. 10, 2023. (Ethan Swope/Getty Images)

The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Mr. Kessler died from blunt-force head injury, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office is continuing to investigate the incident. Anyone who witnessed or has information about the incident, or who was at the demonstration, is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s department. The department has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday morning.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles was devastated by the news, according to a statement issued by the group Monday evening. The group reported Mr. Kessler was struck in the head by a megaphone.
“We are devastated to learn of the tragic death of an elderly Jewish man who was struck in the head by a megaphone wielded by a pro-Palestinian protestor in Westlake Village,” the federation said on X, formerly Twitter. “Our hearts are with the family of the victim. 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.
“Violence against our people has no place in civilized society,” the federation added. “We demand safety. We will not tolerate violence against our community. We will do everything in our power to prevent it.”
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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