Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill was caught in the middle of a pro-Palestinian rally in New York, and things nearly turned very ugly.
Friday evening, Hill, along with his manager Brian Butler of SuckerPunch Entertainment and others were in a black van at the intersection of W 41st St. and 7th Ave. in New York when they were surrounded by protesters marching the streets who were calling for a cease-fire in Gaza amid the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We trying to leave downtown. Our bus is being attacked right now by something, some protest or something that’s going on,” Hill said in a video posted to Instagram. “They’re throwing, they’re breaking our windows, and all this and that. Bro, if any of my people down here downtown and you really got me bro, come get these people up off our bus, bro.”
Throughout the video, Butler can be heard attempting to calm Hill, who appeared very upset. Hill stated in the video he believed he was struck by glass from a broken window. At one point, protestors opened the driver’s side door of the van, but the driver was able to close the door without incident a few seconds later.
No you fuckin pussies blocked out van and started attacking us!! The van is still park at the light behind the line!!! Thank god that the didn’t let me out!!! https://t.co/qHM3cQZeU2
— Jamahal Hill (@JamahalH) November 11, 2023
Butler posted a message on Instagram giving his account of the incident, stating that some of the windows of the van were broken and the tires were slashed.
“This could have escalated very badly,” Butler wrote on Instagram. “This was a sliver of a hair away from being catastrophic. Our sprinter was caught in what seemed to be a flash protest. Protesters swarmed the sprinter once someone noticed some UFC logos in or on the vehicle… Driver was almost pulled out of the van, windows were broken and our tires were slashed… we were stuck in the middle of the intersection getting swarmed. Thankfully everyone is safe.”
According to a news report from CBS, Grand Central Station was briefly shut down Friday evening due to the large protest. NYPD took several people into custody.
Hill is in New York to attend UFC 295, which is headlined by Jiri Prochazka vs. Alex Pereira for the vacant light heavyweight title. Hill vacated the belt after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon, and is expected to face the winner of the main event in the future.