A protest organized by Shop Mask Free Los Angeles rally against COVID vaccine, masks and lockdowns at the vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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A horde of maskless anti-vaxxers and right-wing protesters temporarily shut down one of the country’s largest COVID-19 vaccination sites, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, for about an hour on Saturday.
But no one was arrested and there’s no investigation into what happened because no criminal acts were committed, Officer Lizeth Lomeli, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department, told VICE News.
“What they did today amounts to intentional sabotage of an effort to keep our community healthy and get ahead of alarming variants making their way into Los Angeles County,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a post on Twitter Saturday.
During the protest, about 50 protesters milled about and carried signs with slogans like “End the lockdown” and “Tell Bill Gates to go vaccinate himself.” While the demonstration never turned violent, the Los Angeles Fire Department temporarily closed off the site’s main entrance as a precaution, which caused delays for some of the thousands of people waiting in line, according to the Washington Post.
But workers continued to distribute vaccines inside, and no appointments were canceled, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“CA is working around the clock to provide life-saving vaccines to those on the frontlines of this pandemic,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a post on Twitter Saturday. “We will not be deterred or threatened. Dodger Stadium is back up and running.”
Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Ellsworth Fortman told the Los Angeles Times that the gate was initially closed because protesters had approached the entrance, and there were concerns for both workers inside the site and the demonstrators who could’ve been hit by cars. After the group was told to get out of the road and warned that they could face arrest or citation if they entered the vaccine site, they complied and largely dispersed, according to the Los Angeles Times.
One video posted to YouTube by the account WYSIWYG TV showed a top hat-wearing protester shouting vaccine conspiracies at the cars that were waiting in line through a megaphone. Another demonstrator told the person behind the camera that they weren’t trying to break down the entrance; they worried reporters would frame it as them not allowing people to go in for their vaccinations.
It’s still not entirely clear who organized the protest; one social media post had described the event as a “Scamdemic Protest/March,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The outlet reported that flyers for the event were shared by Shop Mask Free Los Angeles—a group whose members have showed up to stores maskless to try to purchase items.
The protest was the latest incident in which demonstrators have blatantly disregarded coronavirus guidelines, driven by baseless conspiracies and ire against government lockdowns intended to keep them safe. In early January, anti-mask protesters stormed a Los Angeles mall and harassed customers and employees alike.
“Unbelievable,” Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez said in a tweet about the shutdown Saturday. “If you don’t want the vaccine fine, but there are millions of Angelenos that do. 16,000 of your neighbors have died, so get out of the way.”