Ceasefire protest turns violent in South San Francisco

A South San Francisco man is facing criminal charges after he was caught on camera in a profanity-laced rant, allegedly assaulting and spitting on demonstrators during a Gaza ceasefire rally on Wednesday. 

Police arrested the 57-year-old South San Francisco resident, who was later identified from the video as Kent Keenan, by a family member.   

"He personally elbowed me in the face," said a woman involved in the rally, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. 

Keenan can be seen in the cell phone video approaching the group, which is associated with Change South San Francisco, at around 6 p.m. The victim said they hold rallies there every Wednesday on El Camino Real and Chestnut Avenue, and that Keenan had been present at their prior week's demonstration, shouting insults. 

Wednesday's rally coincided with celebrations marking the end of Ramadan.

"I should have been with my family, but I was so disturbed about the genocide that is unfolding, it’s been unfolding for the past six months, that I took time out of my day," said the victim.

The victim said the protest was peaceful before Keenan crossed the street.


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"I tell him don’t touch me, because he’s making contact with me with his cane, and he’s also threatening me…you need to get out of my city, as if I didn’t live here my whole life," said the victim. "It just felt very racist to me…and things started to escalate."

After being filmed spitting on one of the demonstrators, the victim said he began pushing others in the group. Soon after, police arrested Keenan.

In a statement posted to social media, Rep. Kevin Mullin condemned the violence and "hate speech".

"I feel like the root cause is congressional elected officials not calling for a ceasefire," said the victim. "If he did it, then people wouldn’t feel so emboldened to do things like this."

According to San Mateo County Court records, Keenan pleaded not guilty on Friday to three counts of criminal threats with an enhancement as a hate crime and two counts of battery. Keenan is next due in San Mateo Superior Court on April 25.