Government leaders, law enforcement officials and clergy members came together at Los Angeles City Hall on May 20 in solidarity against hate crimes and violence in Los Angeles.
The leaders said it was important to show a united front against hate in response to recent attacks on the Jewish community. Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said they are working with the FBI to combat hate crimes and are taking a zero tolerance stance.
LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala said the department continues to investigate an attack at a restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard on May 18 and a separate attack against a man near Rosewood and La Brea avenues that are believed to be hate crimes perpetrated by pro-Palestinian supporters against members of the Jewish community. Girmala reiterated the need for people to be vigilant and to immediately report incidents to law enforcement.
Numerous public officials spoke about the need to quickly bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice, and to continue fighting hate in all forms. Civic leaders included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Controller Ron Galperin and Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District. Girmala and LAPD Deputy Chief Dominic Choi were joined by Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Kristi Johnson, assistant director of the FBI’s Office in Los Angeles. Faith leaders included Hedab Tarifi, of the Islamic Center of Southern California; John Edward Cager, of Ward African Methodist Episcopal Church; and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“This violence cannot stand. L.A. is the second city of every national and ethnic group in the world,” Cooper said. “I want to send a message to those criminals who think they can intimidate our community. We know that 99.9% of our neighbors are in solidarity with the Jewish community. I have every confidence that the LAPD and the sheriff’s department will have our back.”
Tarifi also denounced the attacks and called for peace.
“Any violence, of any and all sorts, should be condemned,” Tarifi said. “The Islamic Center of Southern California unequivocally condemns the attack. When I heard about the attack on Jewish Angelenos, I was outraged. I, as a Palestinian who advocates for the freedom and rights of my people, say that crimes against Jewish bystanders on the streets of Los Angeles are not acceptable. It doesn’t further the Palestinian cause, or any cause.”
The leaders spoke shortly after it was announced on May 20 that a cease-fire had been declared between Israel and Hamas following days of fighting. Local officials were hopeful the cease-fire would contribute to a de-escalation of racial conflict in Los Angeles.
“I want to be extremely clear. The fact that there is violence in the Middle East provides absolutely no excuse for violence on the streets of Los Angeles,” Feuer said. “We often talk about tolerance here, but there can’t be any tolerance for hate crimes. The crimes that we have seen in the recent days were directed against members of the Jewish community, but let me clear about hate crimes. Hate crimes don’t merely target their direct victims. Hate crime is designed to intimidate a community, hate crime is designed to instill fear in a community and we are standing in a united way to say we will not be intimidated, we will not succumb to fear. We are standing here to take action.”
The Los Angeles Police Department is urging anyone with information about the recent hate crimes against the Jewish community to call investigators at (213)922-8230, or email [email protected].