LOS ANGELES - Violence broke out during a planned protest Saturday in downtown LA as pro-vaccine supporters and anti-vaxxers faced off.
Several people gathered in front of LA City Hall to protest the contentious issue of mandatory vaccinations against the coronavirus.
A "choose freedom march'' was planned for 2 p.m. to protest what organizers call "medical tyranny, mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports.''
An opposing group planned a counterprotest at the same location; organizers called it a "no safe space for fascists" protest.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, a fight broke out and one person was stabbed. As of Sunday, his condition is not known and no arrests have been made.
In addition, at least two reporters said they were assaulted by the anti-vaxx protestors. Veteran reporter Frank Stoltze of KPCC and LAist said he was attacked in the park outside Los Angeles City Hall. It was unclear who attacked Stoltze, but LAPD Capt. Stacy Spell told Los Angeles Times reporters at the scene that a police report had been taken.
Stoltze later posted a message on Twitter saying, "Something happened to me today that's never happened in 30 years of reporting. I was shoved, kicked and my eyeglasses were ripped off my face by a group of guys at a protest outside City Hall during an anti-vax, recall Gavin Newsom and pro-Trump rally.''
Reporter and podcaster Tina Desiree Berg posted photos and video of herself being attacked by a man who can be seen lunging forward and pulling down her mask. Berg posted online "I was just attacked with others'' at the top of a lengthy Twitter thread showing photos and video of herself and others being approached by angry protestors.
"These aren't 'patriots,'" Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez said in a statement late Saturday about those protesting against vaccines and other preventative measures recommended to stop the spread of COVID-19. "Not wearing a mask and being anti-vax isn't patriotism - it's stupidity. 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.''
Late in the afternoon, the LAPD declared an unlawful assembly.
Many identified the man seen reaching for Berg's mask as Tony Moon who tweets under the name "The Roof Korean'' and videotaped himself at the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Others on Twitter claimed the LAPD did not manage the situation as aggressively as they do other types of protests.
"The LAPD are not serving or protecting the community today,'' actress Rosanna Arquette tweeted.
"They apparently are there to serve and protect violent Proud Boys and attack journalists. Dangerous supremacists have infiltrated the force. This is a big problem.''
"LAPD allowed multiple attacks to happen while they and everyone else on Twitter has real-time access to video documentation of the attacks and who did them,'' LCRWnews tweeted.
While some blamed Proud Boys agitators, others cited Antifa rioters.
"We are on scene to maintain order after a fight broke out between Antifa and people gathered for the permitted event,'' the LAPD posted on Instagram. "No arrests have been made but investigation is ongoing.''
Saturday's rallies came as vaccine mandates continue to proliferate across California.
Earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to have the city attorney draw up an ordinance requiring proof of at least partial vaccination to enter many public indoor spaces in the city, including restaurants, bars, gyms, concert venues, movie theaters and even retail establishments.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is gathering advice from experts over the next two weeks on a similar mandate.
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