Hate crime charges filed in antisemitic attack at West L.A. restaurant

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Prosecutors have filed assault and hate crime charges against two men who were involved in a fight outside a West L.A. sushi restaurant after antisemitic slurs were yelled at a group of Jewish diners.

The attack came four months ago during the height of a deadly conflict between Israelis and Palestinians along the Gaza Strip.

Xavier Pabon, 30, and Samer Jayylusi, 36, were charged with one count each of assault with a hate crime enhancement, according to a statement issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Both men are accused of being part of a group of eight people, largely dressed in black, who approached the restaurant in the 300 block of La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Grove and began cursing at several Jewish patrons before violence erupted.

Jayylusi was expected to appear for an arraignment in downtown L.A. on Tuesday, and Pabon had a court appearance scheduled for Thursday, prosecutors said. It was not immediately clear who was representing either man, and attempts to contact them were not immediately successful.

“A hate crime is a crime against all of us,” L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said in a statement. “My office is committed to doing all we can to make Los Angeles County a place where our diversity is embraced and protected.”

On his first day in office in December, Gascón announced an end to the use of all sentencing enhancements. But after an initial backlash, he reversed the policy for some crimes against victims he termed as extremely vulnerable, including those attacked in alleged hate crimes.

The May 18 attack, which happened outside of Sushi Fumi, came as violence left hundreds dead along the Gaza Strip. At least 227 Palestinians, including 64 children, were killed during 10 days of Israeli airstrikes. A dozen Israelis, including a small child and a teenager, also were killed in fighting between Hamas militants and Israel's defense forces.

Video taken from outside the restaurant in May — which was provided to The Times anonymously — shows several cars driving by, honking their horns and waving Palestinian flags while shouting. One man can be seen using a megaphone to announce that Israelis had "killed women" and "should be ashamed of themselves."

After about a minute, the video shows a fight erupt on the sidewalk. One man swings a metal stanchion at the attackers, who then push him against a car and pummel him, according to the footage

One witness, who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said people from the caravan began throwing bottles and other items at diners.

“They were chanting, ‘Death to Jews’ and ‘Free Palestine,’” the witness said. “They had malice.”

Hate crimes have been surging across California in recent years, jumping by 31% in 2020 compared with the prior year, according to a report published by the state attorney general's office. Antisemitic incidents have risen statewide by 40% since 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League, and records show hate crimes targeting Muslims began to spike around the same time.

Times staff writer Hayley Smith contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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