Anti Israel poster
A protest placard sits on the ground outside of Zellerbach Playhouse at UC Berkeley on Feb. 27, 2024, the day after a violent protest. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

Cal police release photos of five suspects from Feb. 26 ‘riot’ at UC Berkeley

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Campus police at UC Berkeley released photos Monday of five people suspected of committing “one or more criminal acts” at a violent protest where an Israeli reserve combat officer was scheduled to speak Feb. 26. Police are asking for public assistance to identify the individuals.

The photos, taken at night, show blurry images of five people, three of whom are wearing face masks. About 200 demonstrators showed up outside an on-campus theater where the “riot” ensued and eventually shut down the event, according to the University of California Police Department.

“Members of the crowd forced their way into the building, injured guests and police officers, and caused property damage,” the UCPD press release stated. “Two incidents were classified as hate crimes.”

Subject 1
Subject 1, according to UC Berkeley police. (Photo/UCPD)

A Feb. 26 police crime log of incidents recorded during the protest listed misdemeanors including trespassing, riot, battery on a peace officer/emergency personnel, battery on a person, and obstructing or resisting an officer or emergency med tech. It also cited two injuries and felony vandalism. However, campus police crime logs do not constitute official charges.

Subject 2
Subject 2, according to UC Berkeley police. (Photo/UCPD)

Video shared widely on social media showed demonstrators outside Zellerbach Playhouse pounding on the glass entrance until it broke. As protesters forced their way into the venue, Jewish students and the speaker were shuttled through a back exit and an underground hallway to evacuate the building safely.

Two Jewish students reported injuries. Senior Vida Keyvanfar said she was flung down while trying to barricade a door, spraining her thumb, and freshman Brooke Resnik said she was grabbed around her neck. A third student, junior Elijah Feldman, said he was called slurs and spat at.

Suspect in UC Berkeley riot
This is Subject 3, according to UC Berkeley police. (Photo/UCPD)

The protest was organized by Bears for Palestine, the Cal affiliate of the anti-Zionist campus organization Students for Justice in Palestine. Chancellor Carol Christ told J. in a March 13 interview that Bears for Palestine is under investigation for possible sanction.

During the same interview, Christ said that any disciplinary investigation into student conduct — such as suspension or expulsion — would wait until the conclusion of the criminal probe. The identities of the five suspects are not known, including whether they are university students.

Subject 4
Subject 4, according to UC Berkeley police. (Photo/UCPD)

“A lot of people don’t understand that these two investigations have to be sequential,” Christ said two weeks ago. “First, the criminal investigation takes place. I have no idea whether the people that allegedly committed criminal violations were students or not. And if they weren’t students, this student conduct process is irrelevant to them.”

If Bears for Palestine is sanctioned, it would not be the first SJP-affiliated chapter to face disciplinary action since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the ensuing war.

In October, the chancellor of Florida’s state universities directed university presidents to “deactivate” SJP chapters for what officials considered to be support for Hamas, a terrorist group. Brandeis University announced it would no longer recognize its SJP chapter because it “openly supports Hamas,” according to a November statement from president Ron Liebowitz. SJP branches at Columbia University and George Washington University were also temporarily suspended.

Subject 5
Subject 5, according to UC Berkeley police. (Photo/UCPD)

Dan Mogulof, UC Berkeley’s assistant vice chancellor for communications, told J. in a series of text messages on Tuesday that campus police operate independently of the Cal administration “in order to protect the integrity of the investigative work.”

Asked whether a student would be expelled if convicted of a hate crime, Mogulof replied, “We do dismiss students when they violate our anti-discrimination policy, and a hate crime would certainly constitute a violation of that sort.”

Bears for Palestine has not responded to J. requests for comment. In a statement published on its Instagram page two days after the protest, the group lashed out at Israel and what it called “Zionist communities at UC Berkeley.” The group asserted that its Feb. 26 protest of Ran Bar-Yoshafat, an Israeli attorney and reserve combat officer who served in Gaza after Oct. 7, was wholly warranted and that his presence posed a “significant threat to the safety and well-being of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students.”

Bar-Yoshafat returned to speak on campus three weeks later, under heavy police presence and little protest.

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.