Milagro Jones surrounded by protestors

Daddy Milagro Daddy Milagro/Instagram (Public Domain)

‘They’re just trying to go viral’: Student who filmed pro-Palestine protest on college campus plans to sue protesters

A high-profile conservative attorney is representing him.

 

Eric Levai

Trending

As the war between Israel and Hamas has dragged on, college campuses have become the epicenter of impassioned protests supporting the Palestinian people. Though most have been peaceful, shocking videos and images of violence, vandalism, and chaos have reverberated across the internet. The protests have attracted clout chasers, opposition, and activists. Now a high-profile right-wing lawyer says he plans to sue multiple protesters on behalf of a man who says he was assaulted by them.

Los Angeles-based recording artist Milagro Jones is behind some of the most viral videos of the protest at the University of California, Los Angeles, which ended in an attack by masked counter protesters, followed by a police raid.

Jones says he initially supported the activists, but that his views changed throughout the course of the protest. He has suggested that the shift is in part because of incidents there in which he claims to have been assaulted, detained, and called a racial slur.

The about-face has turned Jones, who goes by Daddy Milagro online, into a darling of the right wing. It’s also attracted the attention of an attorney and former NBC News analyst who’s been a staunch critic of the UCLA protest. The attorney, Ronald Richards, is representing Jones in a lawsuit he plans to file against his alleged assailants.

In an interview, Richards told the Daily Dot that the lawsuit has not been filed. “UCLA failed in its mission to protect Mr Jone [sic],” Richards said, adding, “It is a broad lawsuit with a lot of claims.”

None of the four people Richards has identified as potential subjects of Jones’ litigation responded to requests for comment.

On April 25, pro-Palestine protesters began occupying an area on the UCLA campus. The protest generated heated responses from both supporters and detractors.

Posts from Jones’ TikTok, @cupidsoulja, show him wearing a “free Palestine” shirt on multiple occasions dating back to days after Hamas attacked Israel. In December, he posted video of a pro-Palestinian protest at UCLA.

A day after the occupation began at UCLA in April, Jones claimed he was unlawfully detained when he entered the encampment to go to the library. Videos show him having multiple encounters with protesters, some of which were heated.

Many videos he posted on TikTok throughout the protest show confrontations between Jones and activists in the encampment. In some of these videos, Jones appears to become agitated with protesters trying to get him to leave and stop recording, and accuses them of putting their hands on him. Jones provided multiple videos to the Daily Dot; one does appear to show someone touch his camera. In one, he accuses a pro-Palestine activist of violating federal civil rights laws. In another video, a purportedly pro-Palestine activist can be heard using a racial slur.

The Daily Dot was unable to substantiate Jones’ allegations that he was menaced with a concealed weapon or called an “Israeli agitator.” He acknowledged that he did not capture any video of a gun but maintains that he saw one.

Jones told the Daily Dot that “masked grad students” admitted they mistook him for an agitator.

“That was during their apology after my brother showed up when things had calmed down and I was no longer filming,” he wrote via DM.

https://www.tiktok.com/@cupidsoulja/video/7364186761645411626

In one TikTok, an activist who appears to have been acting in a security capacity told him that they wanted him to stop filming so people couldn’t dox the protesters. In another, the same person offered to walk Jones to the library. Jones continued filming and walking around the encampment, at times mocking demonstrators for wearing masks to hide their identities.

After claiming he was assaulted, Jones started wearing a “Zionist” t-shirt modeled after the Barbie film, which has played well with his new following online. He told CNN that protesters had “crossed a line.” CNN’s video of the incident shows Jones surrounded by people holding up blankets as he repeatedly attempted to walk around and at times through them.

A protester told the outlet, “Most of these people are just here for attention…. They’re just trying to go viral.”

Several of Jones’ TikToks of the UCLA protest have hundreds of thousands of views; two have over 1 million.

Jones’ videos of the protest have made him a rising star in right-wing circles. Fox News interviewed him. Several pro-Israel outlets covered what one described as the “viral attack” on him. His GoFundMe for graduate school has raised thousands of dollars from supporters. Richards signed on to represent him.

The Beverly Hills-based attorney, who was NBC News’ legal analyst during the Michael Jackson trial, has a penchant for expressing strong conservative opinions on social media. Richards, a graduate of UCLA, seemingly became fixated with the protest—posting increasingly impassioned rants about it on X and calling for the protesters to leave or be removed from the space. He even went to the encampment to confront them in person, at one point saying through a bullhorn, “What idiot is directing you? Who is the leader of the morons?”

He’s also threatened to sue multiple people over their alleged conduct during the protest.

On May 3, he posted a screenshot of an email he purportedly sent to a UCLA professor in which he belittled her, threatened to sue, and asked her “to preserve all your communications as your tortious conduct to others may be the subject of a future action.” Richards told the Daily Dot this is a “contemplated” lawsuit and has not yet been filed.

Richards’ email does not explain what conduct he alleges was “tortious,” but it appears to be related to the professor asking a woman to leave the area and take her large speaker with which she says the woman intended to play music to disrupt the protest.

The professor did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Richards also says he sent an email to a student who is purportedly in one of Jones’ videos in which he accused them of “engag[ing] in potentially illegal conduct,” and asked them to preserve “all UCLA email, personal email, and communications with the New York Times.”

The student referenced did not respond to a request for comment. Richards told the Daily Dot this is another “contemplated” lawsuit.

It’s unclear whether the student communicated with the Times, or how such could factor into potential litigation.

Much like his client’s TikToks, Richards’ criticisms of the protests generated significant interest online, with many racking up tens of thousands of views and hundreds of engagements.

Additional posts on Richards’ timeline include claiming that Qatar funded the encampments, calling famed activist Greta Thunberg a “loser” for attending a pro-Palestine event, and saying that Jews he disagrees with are “kapos” (Jewish inmates who were forced to work for the Nazis) or “self-hating Jews.” He’s also interacted with multiple high-profile accounts that oppose the protests.

The pro-Palestinian protests have angered many, particularly on the right, who take issue with both the message and the methods. Jones’ potential lawsuit may be an opportunity for critics, such as Richards, to exact what they see as justice, and their counterparts may describe as unjust punishment for expressing a viewpoint they disagree with. Either way, it’s attracting additional attention to both men.

The UCLA encampment was raided by police following a mob attack by counterprotesters on April 30. Counterprotesters initiated the attack, beating protesters, using chemical sprays, and launching fireworks at them, per the New York Times. Hundreds of activists were arrested during the raid.

The UCLA student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, reports that multiple academic departments issued statements condemning how the school handled the protest. Unionized academics have begun a second wave of strikes over what they characterize as violations of protesters’ free speech. UCLA did not respond to a request for comment.

A local ABC affiliate reports that UCLA vice chancellor for strategic communications Mary Osako issued this statement: “Our talented students are getting ready for finals, and UCLA’s focus is doing whatever we can to support them. They’re paying tuition and fees to learn, and we’re dismayed by deliberate outside disruptions that get in the way of that. Students want to hear their professors teach, not the piercing sounds of trumpets, drums and slogans being shouted right outside their classroom windows.”

On Thursday, police made their first arrest of a purported counter protester related to the alleged attack on the encampment.

Jones filmed some of the chaos.

One of his TikToks shows a person he identifies as an injured protester being wheeled away in a wagon. The audio overlay says, “What do you think about this? I love it!” In a comment, he wrote that AI chose the audio, which he said “makes it even funnier.”

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