UCLA counter-protestors revealed to be neo-Nazis

The campus protests against the atrocities committed by Israel in Gaza were largely peaceful, with much of the violence occurring due to heavy-handed and brutal acts by the police, at the instigation of university administrators.

However, there was one highly publicized fracas on the UCLA campus when masked counter-protestors arrived on the scene and attacked the demonstrators.

As the University of California, Los Angeles is reeling from a late-night attack on a student protest encampment for Gaza last week, attention is turning to the disparate group of counter-protesters who had rallied against the encampment in the lead-up to the violence, including during chaotic dueling rallies two days before. Many witnesses to the 30 April melee observed that the small group of assailants – many of them masked – did not appear to be students. More than 30 people were injured, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair). Authorities are still working to identify the perpetrators, and have not made any arrests.

It was initially thought that these counter-protestors were pro-Israel but it turns out that it is much more complicated than that, that these were people with other agendas who are actually antisemitic, and they have been showing up at other demonstrations as well under the banner of ‘Leave Our Kids Alone’.

But researchers studying hate and anti-government groups have confirmed the presence at the counter-demonstrations of several far-right activists who have been involved in anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-vaccine protests across southern California over the past three years.

Narek Palyan, an Armenian-American from Los Angeles’ Van Nuys neighborhood, was photographed on UCLA’s campus on 26 April amid a group of counter-protesters, and again on the evening of 30 April, hours before the assault on the protest camp.

Palyan took part in several “Leave Our Kids Alone” demonstrations at school board meetings in southern California over the past year, where he was at times photographed making Nazi salutes. His social media history is rife with antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ+ posts. The Leave Our Kids Alone protests have cropped up at school board demonstrations, book readings and Pride celebrations throughout southern California, focusing anger from conservative parents on the recognition of LGBTQ+ identity and students in both curriculums and classrooms.

RG Cravens, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, has tracked the Leave Our Kids Alone protests since they began disrupting school board meetings last summer and threw their weight behind a controversial anti-trans statewide ballot measure.

The reason these counter-demonstrators are drawn to protests over the war in the Middle East, he said, was that they see them through the prism of a broader rightwing view that “traditional” societies and families are under threat. “Their animosity towards the campus demonstrations are part of this Christian far-right perspective that LGBTQ folks are threats to Christianity, and so are Palestinians or Muslims,” Cravens said.

The campus demonstrations at one of California’s flagship public education institutions, Cravens said, fed into a ready-made narrative from the extremist group about the fundamental corruption of modern schooling. “Their presence at UCLA is consistent with their anti-inclusive education ideology – they argue that public education institutions are failing and are sources of terror for the Jewish community the same way that trans folks are terrors to schools and children alike.”

The school protests, where several demonstrators have been photographed making Nazi salutes, have served as focal points for disparate elements of the southern California far right, a number of whom have sought out violent confrontations. The attempts to bar districts from teaching LGBTQ+ topics have largely been unsuccessful, but a number of school board candidates running for office around the region have aligned themselves with the movement. Similar tensions in public education are playing out in New York City, Toronto and elsewhere.

What these people hate is the LGBTQ+ community (especially the ‘T’ part) and they seize upon any issue where disgruntled people are protesting something and insert themselves into it in order to advance their agenda.

In his latest episode of Last Week Tonight John Oliver looked at how libraries are being targeted by these anti-LGBTQ+ activists, using the shield of protecting children from harmful ideas in order to eliminate any visibility of the community.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    The title of this post is missing the words “because of course they were”

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