Violence broke out at dueling demonstrations over trans rights in front of a Koreatown spa, fueled by a viral video posted by a woman upset that a person with male genitalia who identified as female was allowed to disrobe in the spa’s women’s section.
Police told City News Service that an unlawful assembly was declared at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday.
“Demonstrators have now cleared the scene. Pretty much everyone complied with the order to leave,” said Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department.
“Five people were injured — three by assault and battery and two by assault with a deadly weapon,” Lopez said. “There was no suspects descriptions and no arrests were made,” he said.
Lopez added that he did not know which side of the demonstrations the injured people came from.
A number of confrontations took place at Wi Spa at 2700 Wilshire Blvd., where a protest of the spa’s policy was scheduled for 11 a.m. and trans rights supporters with the group SoCal Antifa showed up two hours earlier for their own “No Bigotry in L.A.” counter-rally.
Video from the scene showed the trans rights supporters mostly clad in black assaulting protesters from the other side, spraying them with an unidentified substance, pushing them, punching them and demanding that they leave the area.
Several of the black-clad counterdemonstrators could be heard repeatedly cursing at protesters on the other side to “get the (expletive) out” and “shut the (expletive) up.”
One man in a blue T-shirt that said “Obey Jesus” was sprayed with something from a can. A few seconds later, a handful of trans rights supporters grabbed a large sign that said “God Does Not Make Mistakes” out of the hands of two protesters. Someone lightly shoved the man in the blue shirt in the back. He then lightly shoved a woman clad in black and was set upon by a group of men, who punched him and hit him twice in the head with a skateboard.
They followed the wounded man down a sidewalk taunting him to fight back until he reached the safety of a police officer.
Black-clad demonstrators could also be seen pushing and beating at least two other protesters while they were on the ground.
Not all of the violence originated from one side. A man with no shirt and holding chain-type weapons in both hands was pulled away by officers after swinging the weapons at a group of counterdemonstrators.
In another incident, a man wearing a “Roof Korean” T-shirt struck a female trans rights supporter in the head with a bottle after she charged at him.
Lines of LAPD officers in helmets tried to keep the two groups separated, with only partial success.
The incident that prompted the demonstrations occurred last weekend. The irate customer posted the video on Instagram under the username Cubana Angel, and it quickly drew widespread exposure and support from many others on the site.
The woman can be heard complaining to a Wi Spa staff member at the counter of the establishment.
“So, it’s OK for a man to go into the women’s section, show his penis around the other women, young little girls — underage — in your spa? Wi Spa condones that, is that what you’re saying?” she asks.
Another customer tells the woman to go somewhere else if she’s offended.
“You go somewhere else!” she replies. “You go somewhere else!”
Another male customer attempts to defend the trans person, who is not seen in the video, but the woman isn’t convinced. “He’s a man. He is a man. He is not no female,” she says.
Another customer can also be heard complaining and asking for her money back.
Wi Spa defended its policy in a statement to Los Angeles Magazine.
“Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa,” the statement said. “Wi Spa strives to meet the needs of all its customers.”
Other solidarity demonstrations supporting the trans community were also planned Saturday and Sunday at nearby MacArthur Park.
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