Man stabbed, reporter attacked at US anti-vaccination protest

A rally against vaccine mandates near Los Angeles’ City Hall led to a fight between anti-vaxxers and counter-protesters.

Anti-vaccination protesters beat up a counter-demonstrator during an anti-vaccination rally near LA City Hall [David McNew/AFP]

A man has been stabbed and a reporter attacked at a protest against COVID vaccines in Los Angeles after a fight broke out between anti-vaxxers and counter-protesters.

Several hundred people, some holding American flags and signs calling for “medical freedom”, arrived at City Hall at approximately 2pm (21:00 GMT) for the rally, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A handful of counter-protesters also gathered nearby, the Times said. About half an hour later, a brawl broke out between the two groups, though it was not immediately clear what prompted the confrontations.

A police officer assists a man who was stabbed during a brawl between anti-vaccination protesters and counter-protesters during a rally near City Hall [David McNew/AFP]

The Los Angeles Police Department said on its Twitter account it is “aware of 1 male that was stabbed & is being treated by LAFD,” referring to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The man was taken to a nearby hospital where he is in serious condition, LAPD Officer Mike Lopez said.

“No arrests have been made but investigation is on going,” the department said.

Counter-protesters could be seen spraying mace while members of the anti-vaccine rally screamed death threats, the Times reported.

KPCC radio reporter Frank Stolze was seen walking out of the park near City Hall being screamed at by anti-mask protesters. One man was seen kicking him.

According to the Times, Stolze told a police officer he was assaulted while trying to conduct an interview.

An anti-vaccination protester, right, clashes with a counter-protester during an anti-vaccination rally near City Hall [David McNew/AFP]

He later wrote on Twitter: “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.”

While there is no rule that requires people to get vaccinated in California, some cities – including New York – have required proof of vaccination from people who wish to enter certain spaces and businesses.

The rally was reportedly held to protest against a City Council vote that took place on Wednesday. The motion passed in favour of directing the city attorney to draft a decree on requiring people to be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to access indoor public spaces.

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez has pushed for such a move. She criticised Saturday’s violence in a tweet.

The Los Angeles Times quoted her as saying: “Not wearing a mask and being anti-vax isn’t patriotism – it’s stupidity.”

On Saturday, county public health officials reported more than 4,200 new cases of the coronavirus.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies