Xavier Pabon, 30, and Samer Jayylusi, 36, are accused of participating in a group of eight people who approached the restaurant and abused Jewish patrons, leading to violence. They have each been charged with one count of assault with a hate crime enhancement.
Video footage of the 18th May incident, which took place during the conflict between Hamas and Israel, showed a group of men, mostly in black, in a car waving Palestinian Authority flags and yelling at diners outside the restaurant. They are later seen outside of the restaurant attacking the diners, reportedly having yelled antisemitic slurs. The attackers were said to have also thrown bottles and pepper sprayed a member of the public who tried to defend the Jewish diners, causing them to go to hospital.
According to one witness, “Those people [the attackers] know who lives in this area, that there is a big Jewish community, that’s why they arrived here, they were looking for Jews to attack. They were demanding to know who is Jewish and were very aggressive. I’m still shaken by what had happened.”
They went on to say that the incident was “worse than what the clip is showing. You can’t hear the profanity and antisemitic slurs they were using. Here were guys who were minding their own business, not bothering anyone, and they were attacked just for being Jewish. I am disgusted. I’ve lived in L.A. all my life and never encountered anything like this. I’m now fearful to identify myself as a Jew. I can’t believe this is happening here, I don’t feel safe anymore.”
A brother of one of the victims wrote about the experience on Facebook. He wrote: “Tonight was the scariest night of my life…two of my brothers’ friends identified themselves as Jewish and got beaten down as a result. I’m pretty speechless at the moment but all I can say is be very careful out there if you are Jewish. Not many people have our back or truly understand this situation we are facing. People will forever be blindsided by the media and unfortunately it’s out of our control.”
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said: “A hate crime is a crime against all of us. My office is committed to doing all we can to make Los Angeles County a place where our diversity is embraced and protected.”
When elected last year, Mr Gascón had announced an end to sentencing enhancements, but after a backlash he reversed the policy for crimes against victims whom he deemed extremely vulnerable, including hate crimes.