Who attacked UCLA protest? New reports unmasking the violent counter-protestors

In the three weeks since a mob of counter-protesters attacked a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers and journalists have begun to uncover who the attackers were, and the university is promising to take action. Meanwhile, a white supremacist pleads guilty to targeting Baltimore’s energy supply. And a school board member in Texas reverses her views on “indoctrination” in her district after discovering it simply isn’t happening.

It’s the week in extremism.

Counter-protesters wearing black attack a pro-Palestinian encampment set up on the campus of UCLA as clashes erupt, in Los Angeles on May 1, 2024.
Counter-protesters wearing black attack a pro-Palestinian encampment set up on the campus of UCLA as clashes erupt, in Los Angeles on May 1, 2024.

UCLA protest attackers unmasked

It’s been just over three weeks since a mob of counter-protesters attacked what had been a peaceful pro-Palestine demonstration at UCLA, beating and injuring several people, shooting fireworks and pepper spray into the crowd and using sticks and other weapons while police officers stood by. With the help of local researchers, media reports have started to identify who the attackers were.

  • The assault happened in the early hours of April 30, when dozens of counter-protesters, some wearing pro-Israel paraphernalia, began attacking the protesters using pepper spray, sticks and their fists. The onslaught lasted at least three hours before police officers showed up to separate the groups.

  • On Wednesday, CNN published an investigation naming several of the people involved in the attack, some of whom were interviewed by journalists. By analyzing hundreds of videos, CNN tracked down one of the most violent counter-protestors, an 18-year-old Beverly Hills resident, whose parents initially expressed support for him, before changing course and saying he was not present at the incident.

  • Late last week The Guardian named three of the attackers in an investigative story analyzing why far-right groups joined forces with the pro-Israel crowd during the attack. One of the men named in The Guardian’s story has a long history of antisemitism. He did not explain to the paper why he was involved in the attack.

UCLA leadership has pledged to investigate the attack. “I committed to finding those responsible and bringing them to justice,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block wrote in a May 6 statement. “The LAPD has committed a detective to assist in our investigative efforts, and we have also connected with the FBI about possible assistance,” the statement reads. No charges have been filed.

Neo Nazi pleads guilty in plot to attack Baltimore power grid

On Tuesday, Sarah Beth Clendaniel, 36, pleaded guilty to plotting to attack the Baltimore power grid by shooting into substations in a “ring” around the city. Clendaniel was arrested last year along with Brandon Russell, who founded the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen. Prosecutors allege the attack was aimed at causing “cascading failure causing billions of dollars.”

  • The planned attack occurred during an upsurge in attacks on the power grid, often at the hands of extreme far-right groups and individuals.

  • Atomwaffen, which is now largely defunct, adhered to the white supremacist concept of accelerationism – seeking to foment a race war and ensuing dystopia to bring about a race-based new global order.

Texas school board member now renounces extremist conspiracies

A newly elected member of a school board near Fort Worth, Texas, who vowed to rid the district of “indoctrination” on race and sexuality is now rejecting her claims after spending months poring through the district’s curriculum, ProPublica reported this week.

  • Courtney Gore, a local radio host, now disavows the far-right platform she ran for office on, telling ProPublica, “None of it was adding up.”

  • When Gore originally ran for the seat in the 7,700-student Granbury school district, she posted on Facebook: “Over the years our American Education System has been hijacked by Leftists looking to indoctrinate our kids into the ‘progressive’ way of thinking.”

  • But after thoroughly investigating the curriculum, speaking to educators and finding her enquiries blocked by hostile members of the board, Gore reversed course: “I’m over the political agenda, hypocrisy bs,” Gore wrote on Facebook. “I took part in it myself. I refuse to participate in it any longer. It’s not serving our party. We have to do better.”

As ProPublica reported, Gore’s reversal is rare in today’s polarized political climate. "You rarely see these kinds of changes because the people who are vetted to run tend to be true believers,” University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus told the publication. “They tend not to be people who are necessarily thinking about the holistic problem.”

Statistic of the week: Seven

That’s how many of the groups on “Project 2025’s” Advisory Board have been designated as extremist or hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to a new report from Accountable.us, a nonpartisan organization that tracks interest groups in Washington, D.C.

As USA TODAY reported earlier this year, Project 2025 is a sweeping plan led by the conservative Heritage Foundation in anticipation of a win for former President Donald Trump in November. It aims to “terminate every diversity, equity and inclusion program across the entire federal government,” Trump said.

The SPLC list has long been criticized for including conservative groups and has been sued by organizations claiming their reputations have been damaged by inclusion on the lists.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Unmasking the people who attacked a UCLA protest last month