FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – A second pepper-spray incident at a pro-Palestine rally in Fresno has been reported to police – just days after 62-year-old Brian Turner was caught on camera also pepper-spraying Palestine supporters.
Officers say the second incident took place Tuesday night at a pro-Palestine rally near Blackstone and Nees at River Park. An organizer says the man was being aggressive with demonstrators before the incident. Police are still trying to identify a possible suspect.
“We didn’t have any witnesses come forward at the scene to identify the person that did spray him,” said Lt. Rob Beckwith. “So we have taken a report, and we will follow up to try to identify the person who dispersed the pepper spray.”
Beckwith says there was no indication the man used confrontational language like racial or Islamophobic slurs before being pepper-sprayed. The organizer of Tuesday night’s protest, Reza Nekumanesh of the Fresno Islamic Cultural Center has a different account and says the man who was allegedly pepper-sprayed showed up and was being verbally abusive to demonstrators.
“Absolutely, a whole bunch of it,” Nekumanesh said. “He was using curse words about Palestinians and Muslims.”
Nekumanesh says he asked thE man to leave multiple times after the man allegedly became aggressive with Palestinian demonstrators. With more demonstrations planned, Jewish and Muslim community leaders call for nonviolent behavior.
“You need to keep safe you need to be vigilant,” Nekumanesh said. “You need to be strong in what you say but you also need to be smart.”
Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel in Fresno is a good friend of Nekumanesh. He says while there is some bitter division over the violence between Israel and Palestine, he urges people to unite in the name of peace.
“There are people on one side together, which is the side of peace, the side of justice.”