Oakland man arrested for four anti-Israel UC Berkeley arson attacks

An anti-Israel activist was arrested for involvement with four firebombing and arson attacks at the University of California, Berkeley, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and anti-Israel factions announced on Tuesday. 

Oakland resident Casey Robert Goonan was arrested on Monday after an investigation by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Arson and Bomb Unit, UC Berkeley Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the four attacks. 

A fire was started at the Dwinelle Annex Construction Site on Sunday, according to the UCPD. In an anonymous Sunday bulletin on The San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center claiming involvement in the arsons said that construction materials, wood pallets, and dry brush had been set alight. 

A campus building, Koshland Hall, had a firebomb thrown at it last Thursday, according to UCPD and another anonymous manifesto. The anonymous statement claimed that the fire had spread across trees and bushes next to the building. 

UCPD said that on early morning June 1, a man wearing dark clothing set a UCPD vehicle on fire. Later that day, an arson occurred near the Starr East Asian Library, when a man set fire to a patch of dry grass. The Sunday anti-Israel statement described the latter incident as “experimental.”

Students take part in a protest encampment in support of Palestinians at the Columbia University campus, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, US, April 28, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/David Dee Delgado)

Goonan is being held at  Alameda County Jail on a million dollar bail, charged with multiple felonies including “the possession and use of destructive devices and multiple counts of arson.”

Arrested in a multi-house raid 

Escalate Network claimed on social media that Goonan was arrested in a multi-house raid, and said that it supported his actions and would organize a fundraiser for him in the days to come. 

“These actions are logical. The dedication of those who took them is righteous. Even if the person arrested is innocent, the entire Palestine solidarity movement should be supporting them as if they truly did take bold and heroic actions to save millions of lives,” said Escalate Network on Tuesday. “We will defend those who fight!”

The anonymous Sunday missive described the arsons as part of Operation Camps Flood, referencing the October 7 Massacre Hamas Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, as revenge against the University California system and the UCPD for their law enforcement against anti-Israel encampments and protesters at University of California Los Angeles and University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Phase two of the escalate movement heats up at UC Berkeley with a construction site set on fire in broad daylight,” said the manifesto. “This was done in retaliation for UCPD’s violent assaults on vulnerable student demonstrators and to punish the university of kkkalifornia [sic] system for supporting the genocidal Zionist-Israel entity. This was an autonomous initiative in concert with the current week of action currently underway: Operation Campus Flood.”

On June 10, 27 students had been arrested at UCLA when they attempted to reestablish an anti-Israel protest encampment three times, causing destruction to the campus and disrupting exams. At least six UCPD personnel were injured, and one security guard was left with a bleeding wound after being struck on the head. A UCLA Chabad rabbi was assaulted, threatened, and subjected to antisemitic abuse. The Palestine Solidarity Encampment claimed that police had employed rubber bullets and harsh physical measures against student activists.

UCSC Chancellor Cynthia Larive said in a June 4 statement that on May 31 over 100 encampment activists on her campus were arrested after they ignored multiple warnings. 20,000 pounds of barricade materials were removed from the school grounds. UCSC Students for Justice on Palestine said on June 10 that the students and faculty arrested had been banned from campus and expelled from dormitories. The activists claimed that after clashes with police they suffered serious concussions, wrist wounds, and bruises.