A group of anti-masker demonstrators stormed a Los Angeles area grocery store and nearby mall on Sunday with little interference from LAPD officers who stood by as the protesters harassed several shoppers. The agitators barged into eateries and stores in inciting unnecessary confrontation in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Social media users are again pointing out the ways in which law enforcement exercises restraint in using excessive force tactics for these types of displays, in comparison to the aggression used towards Black civilians and Black Lives Matter protesters.
Tweets shared by Beverly Hills Courier writer Samuel Braslow shows a series of disturbing videos capturing the anti-maskers as they barged into a Ralph’s grocery store, assaulted customers who wore masks, then caravanned to the Westfield Century City shopping mall where they attempted to enter stores, some of which blocked them from entry.
According to Newsweek, the group also live streamed their efforts on Facebook.
“All about control, this has nothing to do with a deadly virus… because a mask does not protect you from a deadly virus,” said Shiva Bagheri, one of the participants who streamed her discussion on Facebook.
It’s unclear how many people involved in the demonstrations were detained by police, Newsweek reports.
Across the country people like Bagheri continue to downplay the seriousness of the coronavirus after medical and public health officials have warned about easy transmission, as well as steps to take for precautionary measures like social distancing and wearing a mask.
As the numbers continue to affect Black and brown populations disproportionately, a steady rise of coronavirus denial has erupted, especially in majority white populations. The optics of local, state and federal legislators openly denying COVID-19 and its harmful effects are also disparaging.
Not to mention California’s uptick in numbers, leading to closures and stay-at home orders reminiscent of the pandemic’s earlier days. State law mandates that residents must wear masks outside of their homes. 26,000 people have died from the coronavirus in California since the onset of the virus and January 1 reported 585 deaths recorded in a single day.
Over the early months of the coronavirus and into the summer protests broke out across the country advocating for justice in the deaths of high-profile police-involved deaths including Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and countless others. Ahmuad Arbery‘s death also struck a chord over the ways in which white vigilante violence is used to snuff out life and how police investigations are often only activated after garnering attention and pressure from social media.
In California and across the country aggression towards Black Lives Matter activists have been overwhelmingly documented, showing law enforcement use excessive force while white supremacists are often handled with white gloves. We can look to the recent Proud Boys demonstrations in Washington, D.C., for evidence.
The track record of the LAPD in particular runs along the same story of corruption and cover up as other major cities with large Black populations including Chicago and New York City.
Sunday’s event and the LAPD’s lackadaisical response exemplifies the collective frustration regarding policing and why so many are advocating to defund the police.