Two Downtown Naperville rallies clashed on May 23 leading to multiple violent interactions between the participants.
Three people were cited with disorderly conduct charges and no one was injured during the altercations.
Two Competing Rallies
In response to recent violence between Israel and Palestine, a pro-Israel group began their event at the Naperville Municipal Center where they heard from speakers including 21-year-old Daniel Raab, one of the organizers of the event.
“We had our program from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. which included a speaking portion and a walking portion,” said Raab. “All along the walk we were followed by people in trucks with flags, cursing at us and yelling at us.”
At the same time, a pro-Palestinian event was taking place on Rotary Hill. That rally was a group of about 1,500 people – significantly larger than the roughly 50 that attended Raab’s event.
After the Rallies
Police noticed a bag on the pro-Israel group’s walking route and advised them to end their event so that police could investigate the package. Police later determined it not to be a threat.
Raab said he and a few others returned to the downtown area to show that they weren’t afraid of the pro-Palestinian group.
In one video circulating on social media, a truck is surrounded by what appear to be pro-Palestinian protesters yelling at the occupants. Police in riot gear move in and stand between the two groups. The video shows a fellow pro-Palestinian marcher urging those surrounding the truck to move on, yelling, “we’re not like them!”
That same video shows what appear to be members of the pro-Palestinian group attempting to set an Israeli flag on fire.
“Three people were cited on the day of the incident and it’s still under investigation to see who was responsible for taking the flag and their attempt to burn it,” said Naperville Police Commander Michaus Williams. He said police are assessing whether all the elements that constitute a hate crime are present.
A separate video shows the inside of a car in which Raab and others are leaving the scene of another incident. Raab says were waving an Israeli flag from their car as they drove around downtown before they found their car surrounded.
“They began to shake our car, pound on the windows, they were reaching into the sunroof and I heard they were cursing at us,” said Raab.
Naperville For Palestine Response
Naperville For Palestine, the group which organized the pro-Palestinian rally, stated in an Instagram post today:
“Hello, as many of you are fully aware of the altercations that took place during and after our protest, we would like to state that we completely condemn these actions and are not responsible for what occurred at the Palestine rally this Sunday and they do not represent our cause at all. At the beginning of the rally, all attendees were told not to engage with the Israeli rally whatsoever. Our Instagram also features multiple condemnations of burning the Israeli flag and condemnations of any sort of anti-Semitic language. Our rally comprised of 1500+ individuals marching peacefully for 3 hours and one incident of about 15 seconds does not represent our movement. In the video that has been circulating around, you can see clearly that as soon as the altercation took place, organizers and other pro-Palestine protesters came to stop and resolve the altercation. A lot of community members were wondering which organization we were apart of. The whole protest was organized independently. We thank and appreciate you for coming out and supporting the cause for Justice in Palestine. Thank you.”
Police Still Investigating
NPD said they have been in contact with the pro-Palestinian group and says their side of the story doesn’t match Raab’s.
We continue to investigate a # of incidents that occurred during Sunday’s rallies in Downtown. As always, we encourage anyone who was the victim of a crime or who has info/evidence of a crime to come forward and report it so we can investigate it thoroughly. https://t.co/3bpDP0CNil
— NapervillePD (@NapervillePD) May 27, 2021
“I don’t know what started it, I don’t know what precipitated it and if you listen to different sides of the story, they’re both completely different,” Commander Williams said. “So I don’t know exactly what started it or how it got to that point. But it happened and preliminarily there were three people cited but it’s still under investigation.”
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