What to know about the violence at the Los Angeles anti-vaccine rally

Protesters against vaccine mandates, left, confront pro-vaccine advocates
Protesters against vaccine mandates, left, confront pro-vaccine advocates in front of the LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Aug. 16. I’m Justin Ray.

This past weekend, an anti-vaccine rally near Los Angeles City Hall turned violent. A person was stabbed and a reporter was assaulted. As you can see in images by Times photographer Genaro Molina, things got pretty heated.

A crowd of several hundred people descended on City Hall around 2 p.m. for the planned rally. Many held American flags and signs calling for “medical freedom.” A few dozen counterprotesters had amassed as well, and it didn’t take too long for things to escalate.

A fight erupted shortly after 2:30 p.m. The crowd began trading punches and throwing things at each other. It was not immediately clear how the fight started; each side quickly blamed the other.

One person, who the anti-mask protesters claim was part of their rally, could be seen collapsed and bleeding in an intersection. KPCC reporter Frank Stoltze was also seen being screamed at and kicked by anti-mask protesters. No arrest has been reported in connection with the stabbing, or in the attack on the journalist, said Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department.


The man who was stabbed has since been released from a hospital. He has not been identified.

We have seen the backlash against vaccines in the state before. A Huntington Beach restaurant gained national notoriety after posting a sign calling for “proof of being unvaccinated.” Dodger Stadium’s mass COVID-19 vaccination site was temporarily shut down when about 50 protesters gathered at the entrance.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to direct city attorneys to draft a law that would require people to have at least one dose of a vaccine to visit indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, shops and movie theaters. But the plan hasn’t been completely ironed out, and the full City Council still must approve the proposed law after it’s written up.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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Subscriber exclusive: The heartbreaking conservatorship battle of a ‘Star Trek’ legend. Nichelle Nichols won legions of fans and made history as an original “Star Trek” cast member, but friends and family say she needs help. How best to assist the actor, who has dementia, is the subject of protracted legal dispute in Los Angeles. A three-way fight over Nichols’ fate involves her only child, Kyle Johnson, who is also her conservator, her former manager, and a concerned friend. Los Angeles Times

Illustration of Nichelle Nichols
Nichelle Nichols won legions of fans and made history as an original “Star Trek” cast member, but friends and family say she needs help.
(Stat The Artist aka Teddy Phillips)

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California’s historic recall campaign has kicked into high gear with Gov. Gavin Newsom rallying the crucial labor and Latino vote and his Republican challengers stepping up their attacks. The ground campaign is expected to be crucial in the coming weeks, with Democrats acknowledging they need a big turnout in the special election to blunt motivated Republicans. Over the next few days, all of California’s 22 million voters will receive a ballot for the monthlong election period that ends Sept. 14. Los Angeles Times


California judge is mad at quick jail releases. He set a burglary defendant’s bail at $1 million. A Fresno judge on Friday set a burglary suspect’s bail at $1 million to make sure she wouldn’t be able to get out of jail easily. The defendant, Ashley Ellis, 28, of Oklahoma, is charged with a count of first-degree residential burglary and two counts of burglary in the second degree. Judge Jon Kapetan said he didn’t believe Ellis was going to follow any of his orders and could possibly flee. Her public defender Marco Aguiar plans to appeal: “This is not in the class of crimes in which generally $1 million bails are classified.” Modesto Bee

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A Tehama County boy has died after being exposed to an extraordinarily rare brain-eating amoeba, his family said. David Pruitt, 7, died from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, on Aug. 7. There have only been 10 cases with that diagnosis reported in California since 1971, the Tehama County Health Services Agency said in a release. The agency said the boy was probably infected in a lake in Tehama County but didn’t specify which lake. SFGATE

Shifting COVID policies sow confusion among schools. With many public schools in California less than a week from opening, there is no clear answer to many questions educators have around COVID-19, including: What will the classroom look like? What are the rules? There is also a concern that guidelines will become outdated as soon as they are implemented. “Amid constantly shifting state and federal guidance on masking and distancing, not to mention the explosive growth of the Delta variant of the virus, local school boards and districts are often left to fend for themselves.” Capital & Main


San Luis Obispo County has opened a parking lot to provide a safe place for people living out of their cars. The lot will be open for three months. There are no size restrictions on vehicles, but tent camping is not allowed. The site offers ADA-accessible showers, restrooms, a hand washing station and dumpsters. KSBY


Close friends, unwittingly linked by a childhood shooting. Tashante McCoy-Ham and Deion Short became friends before they realized that he had been involved in the shooting that wounded her at 15: “There’s always a deeper story about how people become who they are,” McCoy-Ham said. Both hope their kids’ generation will see that gun violence is not normal — and that you never know who you might hurt. The Trace

Despite isolation and racism, Black Americans feel at home in California’s desert. In the first half of the last century, hundreds of Black people from the South, and from Los Angeles and the Bay Area, settled in desert communities like Palm Springs. They came for some of the same reasons that drew many white people: plentiful jobs, ample land to put down stakes, and the live-and-let-live openness. But many towns historically restricted Black families to segregated neighborhoods. Most Black residents live far from the carefully constructed fantasy that visitors to these areas see, but they still have a sense of pride in their communities. Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles: Nice book weather! 88. San Diego: Great weather for making bacon before it’s expensive, 78. San Francisco: 74. San Jose: Sunny, 84. Fresno: 103. Sacramento: 103.

So reader K. J. Kovacs has weighed in on my Diet Coke comments: “A big juicy Diet Coke on a hot summer day is a gift from the gods, but it only merits that rating if it has ice in it and is at least 20 ounces.” Additionally, when it comes to cans, “Diet Coke loses some of its flavor if refrigerated at TOO cold a temperature.”



Angela Bassett was born Aug. 16, 1958. We talked to the actress back in 2018 about her role in “Black Panther.”

Madonna was also born Aug. 16, 1958. The music legend has recently been vocal about Britney Spears’ conservatorship.


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