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Biden is coming to LA, and pro-Palestinian protesters are ready to 'shut it down'

Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

LOS ANGELES — Scores of demonstrators rallying in solidarity with Palestinians are expected to protest outside a Westwood fundraiser for President Joe Biden on Friday evening, drawing an ominous warning from the Los Angeles Police Department that "violence of any kind will not be tolerated."

The department said in a post on social media platform X that it was "aware of possible first amendment activity" and was working with the Secret Service to deploy additional officers and other resources to "ensure the highest level of public safety."

"The Los Angeles Police Department is asking that all individuals and groups involved in protest or counter-protest activities not allow individuals who express the intent to commit violence or property (damage) to compromise the otherwise lawful demonstration," the post said.

A spokesperson for the LAPD said officials had "no knowledge of any advance threats of violence or vandalism" at the protests.

It's unclear how many protesters are expected at Holmby Park, near the Holmby Hills home where Biden and first lady Jill Biden will attend the fundraiser, but pro-Palestinian groups including the Palestinian Youth Movement posted on social media encouraging supporters to "leave work early" and to "get ready to shut it down for Palestine," drawing thousands of likes and interactions.

One post by the youth group included faux blood and played on Biden's "Dark Brandon" meme, featuring glowing red eyes and referring to the president as "Genocide Joe."

The group urged followers to "show up and hold a picket line with us for as long as it takes!" Protesters are expected to gather starting at 3:30 p.m.

Previous peaceful pro-Palestinian protests have taken place in Pershing Square, where tens of thousands gathered on Oct. 21, as well as at the Israeli consulate on Nov. 4 and in Hollywood on Nov. 15. A smaller-scale protest organized by progressive Jewish activists took place outside Vice President Kamala Harris' Brentwood home in October.

The protests have cascaded into a nationwide movement by demonstrators calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and for the United States to end financial and military aid to Israel.

 

After Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing roughly 1,200 people and kidnapping more than 240, Israel responded with a bombing offensive and eventual ground war in Gaza believed to be responsible for at least 17,000 Palestinian deaths.

Friday night's fundraiser is hosted by Hollywood directors Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner, producers Shonda Rhimes and Peter Chernin, former studio chief Jim Gianopulos and former Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso. Mayor Karen Bass, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Rep. Nancy Pelosi are also expected to attend.

The event marks the first such fundraising gala since the end of two entertainment industry strikes. Individual donations could soar to close to $1 million.

Biden's visit runs from Friday to Sunday, and with his arrival and departure from Los Angeles International Airport, traffic is expected to be affected.

Caltrans spokesperson Marc Bischoff said that ramp closures will not include an "advance announcement to the public" for security reasons, but concerned motorists can check for closures with Caltrans.

(Staff writers Seema Mehta and Anthony De Leon contributed to this report.)

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©2023 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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