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KPCC/LAist Reporter Attacked During Anti-Vax Rally Near City Hall, Another Man Stabbed

Three men are shown holding a fourth man as one prepares to punch him. Two of the attackers are wearing American flag face coverings. A handful of other individuals wander around nearby.
Anti-vaccination protesters beat up a counter-protester during an anti-vaccination rally near L.A. City Hall on August 14, 2021.
(David McNew
AFP via Getty Images)
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A rally on Saturday outside L.A. City Hall to protest vaccine requirements and mask mandates turned violent when protesters turned on counter-demonstrators and journalists, stabbing a man. KPCC/LAist criminal justice correspondent Frank Stoltze was also attacked.

Frank Stoltze Explains What Took Place At An Anti-Vax, Anti-Mask Rally in LA

In a tweet on Saturday, Stoltze said,"I was shoved, kicked and my eyeglasses were ripped off my face by a group of guys." He was not otherwise injured.

A man was stabbed during the melee, but the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday that he had been released from the hospital.

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There have been no arrests in the stabbing, the attack on Stoltze, or violence against other journalists covering the rally.

The Los Angeles Police Department told Stoltze that an estimated 500 protesters were at the rally, billed on flyers as the “Choose Freedom March against medical tyranny.” Other flyers encouraged attendees to “stop socialism” and “stand now while you can.” There were about 50 counter-protesters, according to the LAPD.

Stoltze talked about the confrontation in an interview on 89.3 KPCC, which shares a newsroom with LAist.

When the rally began, Stoltze said, demonstrators were carrying signs from a cross-section of movements and concerns. One sign, he said, read “God is My Vaccine” and another read “No Nazi Vaccine Passport Mandates.” There were also profane signs aimed at Gov. Gavin Newsom, and some protesters carried pro-Trump banners and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, Stoltze said.

Stoltze reported that while the main protest on a lawn outside City Hall was largely peaceful, confrontations broke out on the outskirts of the rally.

Screenshot of an August 14, 2021 tweet from Frank Stoltze that reads, "I’m mad but fine. There was a stabbing here today too - unclear if the victim was someone from the rally or a counter protester, say police, who were nearby. They made no arrest. Man is stable. There were peaceful families here on the South Lawn too." The tweet includes a photo of a woman standing beside a tree on a lawn, holding an American flag, with four children and another woman seated beneath the tree. A small group of other protesters can be seen in the background.

Stoltze said a fight broke out at First and Spring Streets, with people throwing punches and spraying mace at each other. The LAPD reported that during the course of that fight, a man was stabbed.

Stoltze observed protesters and counter-protesters engaging in shouting matches, shoving and punching during the approximately two-hour rally. Videos posted on social media include one showing a man running up to a woman and macing her in the face. Stoltze reported that LAPD officers on the scene did not intervene.

Anti-vaccination protesters stand on the steps of L.A. City Hall holding American flags and signs that read "Coercion is not Consent", "Stop the Mandate, Medical Freedom For All", and "Freedom in Jesus" and "Jesus is King".
Anti-vaccination protesters rally and pray near City Hall following on August 14, 2021.
(David McNew
AFP via Getty Images)
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City Council President Nury Martinez decried the violence. “These aren’t 'patriots'," she said in a statement. "Not wearing a mask and being anti-vax isn’t patriotism—it’s stupidity. We have to be able to have differences of opinions without resorting to violence."

We have to be able to have differences of opinions without resorting to violence.
— City Council President Nury Martinez

In the interview on KPCC, Stoltze said that he was attacked after approaching a man on the south lawn of City Hall who had his head wrapped in a bloody ace bandage. The man told Stoltze he’d been beaten up by the counter protestors.

Stoltze said he then had “a polite conversation [with the alleged victim], and I asked if he wanted to be interviewed. He said no.”

Stoltze said when he asked a follow-up question about whether he would agree to an interview if he could remain anonymous, other men dressed in fatigues, dark sunglasses, and American flag face coverings “got in my face and told me to get out of there … when I said it was a public park, they went ballistic … one shoved me, another kicked me and a third came up behind me and stole my eyeglasses.”

Stoltze said he has “had plenty of confrontations with people covering the news in L.A. over the years, but nothing like that.”

The identity of Stoltze’s attackers is unknown.

Stoltze reported that in several instances, police stood a few feet away from various violent clashes and did not step in. He also reports people holding long poles, which have been outlawed, and PVC pipes in plain view of officers.

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