A Cleveland Heights supporter of Israel who attempted to counter-protest at a pro-Palestinian rally May 14 at Crocker Park in Westlake said he and his wife were both assaulted and his yarmulke was burned.
“They burnt my kipah, there’s no equivalency here,” Alec Popivker told the Cleveland Jewish News May 19.
Popivker and his wife, Sarah Nurit Gammon Popivker, who attend Congregation Zemach Zedech in Cleveland Heights, were carrying Israeli flags and video recorded themselves. He called it a hate crime.
Popivker said Westlake police placed him in a cruiser for part of the time and later allowed him to continue to “exercise my First Amendment rights.”
Capt. Gerald Vogel of the Westlake Police Department told the CJN May 19 Popivker was placed in a cruiser because “it was a melee situation.”
Vogel said they were trying “to get control of the situation. It was a big, angry crowd. He was pretty angry himself, which I understand.”
Police are gathering video to present to a prosecutor, Vogel said.
“If we can identify any crimes that were committed, we would prosecute,” he said.
Popivker said Westlake police assigned him a case number to begin a police report.
“I was planning to file a full report, just haven’t had time to yet,” he said.
Popivker said he and his wife were the only counter-protesters at the event.
The two also demonstrated May 16 at Public Square in downtown Cleveland, where Popivker said they received police protection.
Popivker said he has been banned from Facebook and Twitter without explanation, and his LinkedIn account is being reviewed.
He said he first engaged in counter-protest July 5, 2020, at Public Square in Cleveland. He was arrested at that protest, jailed and later charges were dismissed.