Police announced the arrest of several dozen people after dueling protests in front of a local Koreatown spa turned violent for the second time this month.
The clashing events organized both to support and protest Wi Spa on Wilshire Blvd stems from a viral video posted in late June that circulated across the internet. The video shows an irate customer arguing with spa employees over a policy that allowed transgender individuals to use the spa facilities, resulting in her supposedly being exposed to a transgender women.
In the video, the customer can be hear saying "there is no such thing as transgender. "
The video was later showcased by Tucker Carlson tonight on Fox News, resulting in the spa receiving national attention.
The biography information within the Instagram account that originally uploaded the video promised to fight laws and politicians who refuse to protect women and girls. It decries "Antifas" attempts to stop them with the tagline, "Christ Is King."
Wi Spa and the LAPD found that no evidence that any transgender individuals had been at the appointment-only spa on the day the viral confrontation was filmed. Some speculate that the video was made as a hoax to hurt the reputation of the local spa due to it well known LGBT-inclusive policies.
Wi Spa received thousands of 1 star reviews on sites like Yelp or Google, including some which contained threats against the business.
The online campaign against the spa eventually escalated to a protest being organized outside of the Wilshire Boulevard business on July 3. During that event, two people were stabbed. Police being on-scene during the event but no arrests were made.
Although the previous protest had ended violently, organizers behind the attempted boycott stated that they weren't deterred and held another event on Saturday , July 17, hoping to pressure the spa into reverting its transgender policy.
Attendees on Saturday included Arthur Schaper, the founder of MassResistance, an organization described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an, "Anti-gay hate group." According to the Guardian, some protestors wore shirts which had text pledging to murder leftwing activists or referenced Chilean death squads which operated under the authority of the country's former military dictatorship.
The Guardian also stated that their reporter covering the event was assaulted by a group of people protesting the spa after asking to interview them.
Just got thrown to the ground by right-wing anti-pedophile protesters as a crowd coverged on me and chased me. They threw water at me and screamed about Jesus and said to grab my phone. Police would not let me through the police line but after I got thrown on the ground they did. pic.twitter.com/LDGqkua3fi
— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) July 17, 2021
As the protest began to get underway the Los Angeles Times identified many of the signs carried by protestors to contain slogans such as, "save the children," which is popular among followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
While groups gathered on both sides of the controversy, lines of riot police stood by to separate the two crowds. By 11 AM police ordered the crowds to disperse after stating that members of the crowds had thrown projectiles at officers.
During this dispersal order many around the area of Wilshire Boulevard reportedly received an emergency alert on their phones ordering them to leave the area or be arrested, including those unaware or uninvolved in the nearby protests.
In videos uploaded which show the aftermath of the protests, police are seen using batons to disperse the counter protestors just minutes after the assembly was declared unlawful. One video also appears to show a woman being shot at point blank range with a crowd control impact round despite a federal judge issuing a court order in April, and a preliminary injunction in May that restricts the LAPD from being able to use such weapons on protestors.
Woman was just shot by a rubber bullet as she asked to please put down your guns— pic.twitter.com/YkZUjW007l
— waterspider (@waterspider__) July 17, 2021
Footage also appears to show a riot control officer seizing a transgender pride flag from one of the counter protestors before discarding it on the ground.
An LAPD spokesperson stated there were no injuries during the protests but several dozen people had been arrested for failure to disperse.
Image Credit: Vishal P. Singh/ Twitter