Photos and video footage showed dozens of white people rioting Saturday at a rally in Los Angeles protesting against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in a violent demonstration that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is being accused of allowing to happen.
Video journalist Andrew Kimmel tweeted footage showing the violence erupting, including alleged Proud Boys members throwing punches and kicks at anybody near them — presumably counterprotesters — as the rally descended into chaos. The video also showed one person with their face concealed appearing to repeatedly stab people with a short knife or some other sharp object.
In the end, the Los Angeles Daily News reported that one person had to be treated for stab wounds and was hospitalized in serious condition. Even more glaring is the fact that LAPD did not make a single arrest even though it was on the scene and knew in advance about the event that was estimated to have attracted about 500 people.
One local reporter said he was “shoved” and “kicked” and had his glasses “ripped off” his face. However, Frank Stoltze — who said that had never happened to him in his 30-year career — didn’t publicly identify his assailants.
But the LAPD later on its Instagram page blamed the violence on “Antifa and people gathered for the permitted event” despite witnesses claiming it was the Proud Boys who started the rioting. Instead, the LAPD said it had opened up an investigation into the violence.
The LAPD’s assignment of blame to Antifa without proof lent credence to the growing suspicion that the police were trying to cover up for the Proud Boys, who have allegedly enjoyed a cozy relationship with law enforcement in the past, critics said on social media.
For perspective, right-wing conservatives have repeatedly called Antifa — short for “anti-fascists” — the “alt-left” by people like former President Donald Trump and others who share his political views that typically fall in line with those of law enforcement. Notably, Trump and his followers pushed a lie that it was Antifa and not the former president’s supporters who illegally broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and tried to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden‘s election.
The rally was held in response to California’s new mandate requiring proof of vaccination to be admitted into public establishments like restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, bars and stores.
Opponents of the vaccine mandates have said it infringes on their personal rights despite the proliferation of the COVID-19 delta variant that has ravaged Los Angeles and many other parts of the country.
For perspective, Los Angeles County just on Friday reported 4,200 new coronavirus cases along with evidence of the new lambda COVID-19 variant.
Public health officials have repeatedly called vaccinations the best protection to help bring the pandemic under control, thus the vaccine mandate.
But the mandates haven’t sat well with the so-called anti-vaxxers who have refused to take the vaccine, which led to the violence on Saturday — something that could be a preview of how other cities and states will react as more vaccine mandates get enacted across the country.
City officials in Los Angeles have said calling the policy a “vaccine mandate” is a misnomer.
“We’re not going to tell someone, anyone that they have to get vaccinated. We’re also not going to deny anyone the ability to access essential food, medicine… regardless of vaccination,” L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said last week. “That wouldn’t be legal, that wouldn’t be moral. But what is immoral is choosing not to get vaccinated.”
O’Farrell added: “We need to stop fighting the science and start fighting the virus.”