11 Jul That attack outside L.A. sushi was antisemitic, right? Think again, says lawyer for accused
Xavier James Pabon is a 30-year-old Puerto Rican father who decided to join a protest against Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip after his boss showed him pictures of dead Palestinian children being pulled from rubble after an Israeli airstrike.
In May, he joined a caravan of cars that drove past the storefronts and restaurants lining North La Cienega Boulevard, waving Palestinian flags and shouting anti-Israel comments through a loudspeaker.
At a sidewalk table at one of those restaurants, Mher Hagopian, a Beirut-born wedding photographer, was chatting with some Jewish clients when a caravan of vehicles, including the one Pabon was in, idled at a long red light outside the restaurant.
What happened next is settled fact within an outraged, anxious Jewish community, both in L.A. and nationally: video shows Pabon and others leaping from their vehicles and charging the diners in what many saw as an unprovoked antisemitic attack, which is how Hagopian and the high-powered legal team surrounding him are describing it.
“They were targeting,” Hagopian told the Forward.
But Pabon’s lawyer, Mark Kleiman, has a very different, as-yet unheard read on the incident.