Police on Thursday arrested a pro-Palestinian professor in the killing of a 69-year-old Jewish man at a rally earlier this month.
“On November 16, 2023, detectives from the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau contacted Loay Alnaji in the City of Moorpark and arrested him for the death of Paul Kessler,” the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement. “Alnaji will be booked at the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility for California Penal Code section 192(b)—involuntary manslaughter, and his bail will be set at $1,000,000.”
Alnaji, 50, was allegedly involved in an altercation at a Nov. 5 event with Kessler, where anti- and pro-Israel protesters both demonstrated. Police said Kessler fell backwards following the altercation and hit his head on the pavement, succumbing to his injuries the next day. The county medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. At least one witness at the time said Kessler was hit in the head with a megaphone, though police had conflicting reports.
A professor of computer science at Moorpark College, Alnaji appears to have expressed anti-Israel views in the past. Alnaji shared a video on Instagram, according to StopAntisemitism, in which activist Shahid King Bolsen compares Hamas to historic civil rights leaders.
“If someone asks me to condemn Hamas, I would say what’s the rush?” says Bolsen in the video. “You condemned Nelson Mandela and the ANC until you didn’t, until he was a hero. You condemned Mahatma Gandhi until you didn’t.”
Violence has broken out in at least one anti-Israel protest since Kessler’s death. Demonstrators outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night brawled with Capitol Police, who said the protesters “moved dumpsters in front of the exits, pepper sprayed our officers and attempted to pick up [a] bike rack.” Jewish Voice for Peace, one of the organizers of the protest, maintained that the event was peaceful.