Marisa Gerber, Irfan Khan and Carlos Lozano
Los Angeles Times
Dodger Stadium’s mass COVID-19 vaccination site was shut down Saturday afternoon as about 50 protesters gathered at the entrance, stalling hundreds of motorists who had been waiting in line for hours.
The Los Angeles Fire Department closed the entrance to the stadium — one of the largest vaccination sites in the country — for about an hour starting just before 2 p.m. as a precaution, officials said.
The demonstrators included members of anti-vaccine and far-right groups. While some carried signs decrying the COVID-19 vaccine and shouting for people not to get the shots, there were no incidents of violence.
“This is completely wrong,” said German Jaquez, who drove from his home in La Verne and had been waiting an hour for his vaccination when the stadium’s gates were closed. He said some of the protesters were telling people in line that the coronavirus is not real and that the vaccination is dangerous.
“This is the wrong message,” Jaquez said. “I’ve been waiting for weeks to get an appointment. I am a dentist; I am taking a big risk being around patients. I want to be safe for my patients and for my family. The vaccine is the only way to beat the virus.”
A fire department official said the vaccination site reopened a few minutes before 3 p.m. The site is usually open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A post on social media described the demonstration as the “Scamdemic Protest/March.” It advised participants to “please refrain from wearing Trump/MAGA attire as we want our statement to resonate with the sheeple. No flags but informational signs only.
“This is a sharing information protest and march against everything COVID, Vaccine, PCR Tests, Lockdowns, Masks, Fauci, Gates, Newsom, China, digital tracking, etc.”
A livestreamed video of the gathering shows a group of protesters on a sidewalk as cars navigate cone-lined lanes toward the stadium, which served as a COVID-19 testing site for months.
Protesters carried signs that read “Save Your Soul TURN BACK NOW,” “CNN IS LYING TO YOU,” “RECALL GAVIN NEWSOM” and “TAKE OFF YOUR MASK.” Some handed out pamphlets to motorists who had their windows down. Some cars blared their horns as they drove by.
Protesters spoke through bullhorns: “Turn back while you can,” one man said. “You’re a lab rat.”
Public officials swiftly weighed in, expressing frustration.
Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell, who oversees public safety for Mayor Eric Garcetti, tweeted a Los Angeles Times article about the closure, writing, “Its back open, but ..” and adding a “face palm” emoji.
The incident marks the latest protest by small groups opposed to basic coronavirus safety measures such as face coverings.
Following demonstrations by anti-mask groups at shopping malls, grocery stores and homeless encampments, the Los Angeles City Council earlier this month bolstered restrictions and subjected some violators to financial penalties. Following a unanimous vote, the council ordered city attorneys to draft a law that would impose fines and penalties on those who refuse to wear a mask at indoor businesses when requested to do so by management, as well as on individuals who refuse to wear one when “invading someone’s personal space.”
Earlier in the pandemic, maskless demonstrators gathered at retail outlets, including Erewhon Market in the Fairfax district, a Target on Beverly Boulevard and the Westfield Century City mall, sparking a backlash from shoppers and employees who felt harassed.
In one video, a demonstrator said he had tested negative for the virus and called a customer at the grocery store a “mask Nazi.”
After the Century City demonstration, Garcetti issued a warning.
“We won’t have officers who are standing by witnessing that. We will take action,” the mayor said. “And don’t test us on this, because you will find yourself in jail, cited or dealing with prosecution.”
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