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L.A. City Council president decries violence that erupted at anti-vax rally over the weekend

An anti-vax demonstrator confronts counterprotesters in front of Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on Saturday.
An anti-vax demonstrator confronts counterprotesters in front of Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on Saturday.
(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez denounced the violence that erupted at an anti-vaccination rally in front of City Hall over the weekend resulting in one man being stabbed and a journalist being attacked.

“Not wearing a mask and being anti-vax isn’t patriotism — it’s stupidity,” Martinez tweeted late Saturday night. “We have to be able to have differences of opinions without resorting to violence. Attacking counter-protesters and journalists has no place in a democracy and certainly no place in Los Angeles.”

For the record:

9:06 a.m. Aug. 16, 2021An earlier version of this article said the man who was stabbed had been released from the hospital. He was still hospitalized, LAPD officials said Monday.

The man who was stabbed at the rally was still hospitalized, police said Monday.

The man was not identified and no information was given about the extent of his injury. No arrest has been reported in connection with the stabbing, or in an attack on a journalist that was also reported at the rally, said Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department.

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A crowd of several hundred people, many holding American flags and signs calling for “medical freedom,” had descended on City Hall around 2 p.m. Saturday for the planned rally. A few dozen counterprotesters had amassed on 1st Street near the former offices of the L.A. Times before the clash.

A crowd descended on City Hall around 2 p.m. for the planned rally. A few dozen counter protesters had amassed on First Street

A fight erupted on the corner of 1st and Spring streets shortly after 2:30 p.m., as counterprotesters in all black and anti-vaccine demonstrators draped in American flag garb and Trump memorabilia traded punches and threw things at one another. It was not immediately clear how the fight started, though each side quickly blamed the other.

One person, whom the anti-mask protesters claimed was part of their rally, could be seen collapsed in the intersection, bleeding. Police on the scene said the person had been stabbed, and paramedics arrived to take him to a hospital.

A short time later, KPCC reporter Frank Stoltze could be seen walking out of the park near City Hall being screamed at by anti-mask protesters. One man could be seen kicking him. Stoltze later told a police officer he had been assaulted while trying to conduct an interview.

Stoltze later tweeted this statement: “Something happened to me today that’s never happened in 30 yrs of reporting. In LA. ⁦@LAist⁩ I was shoved, kicked and my eyeglasses were ripped off of my face by a group of guys at a protest — outside City Hall during an anti-vax Recall ⁦@GavinNewsom⁩ Pro Trump rally.”

The incident follows two other clashes that occurred in recent weeks between far-right extremists and left-wing groups over transgender access at a spa in Koreatown. Video footage of a female customer complaining to an employee of the spa that she had seen a customer with a penis in an area that is reserved for women went viral.

The spa told The Times that it is required to follow California law that prohibits businesses from discriminating against customers based on race, gender, sexual identity or expression.

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On July 17, far-right extremists, including members of the Proud Boys, and left-wing protesters faced off outside Wi Spa. When protesters began to clash, the LAPD declared an unlawful assembly and used projectiles and batons and arrested 40 people — mostly for failure to disperse.

Some who attended the protest described minimal violence between the two groups, and claimed the LAPD engaged in excessive use of force toward the counterprotesters. During the first Wi Spa protest July 3, right-wing demonstrators and counterprotesters brawled in the streets before police were able to break up the fighting.


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