Police are seeking the public’s help in finding a man suspected of stabbing another man during dueling demonstrations in downtown Los Angeles over COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The suspect was described as possibly white or Hispanic, between the ages of 20 and 30 with long blonde hair. He was last seen wearing a black bandanna, black hoodie, black skinny jeans with holes in the knees and white tennis shoes.
The suspect stabbed the victim in the upper chest at about 2 p.m. Saturday, according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement. The victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition and was still hospitalized, police said.
Vaccine supporters gathered at 1 p.m. Saturday for a “No Safe Space For Fascists” rally at the intersection of First and Spring streets, followed one hour later by a “Choose Freedom March” against “medical tyranny.”
At the peak of the rallies, about 500 anti-vaccination protesters were on City Hall’s South Lawn and about 30 to 50 counter protesters were at First and Spring streets, LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission on Tuesday. The LAPD deployed 100 personnel to the event.
Video from the scene showed the anti-vaccination crowd yelling at the other side from across First Street — some of whom were filming the demonstration — then attacking them, hollering among other things, “Unmask them!”
Both sides could be seen exchanging punches and throwing objects at each other. The clash lasted about two minutes, Moore said, and an anti-vaccination protester was stabbed by a counter protester. The man suffered a lacerated heart and punctured lung and was taken to a hospital in critical condition, Moore said. He is expected to survive.
Moore said he blames both sides of the protests for the violence.
“I denounce the violence that erupted in front of City Hall and the police headquarters. There exists no excuse or rationalization, despite what members of both groups espoused — or what some members of both groups espoused — for the use of violence against opposing views or journalists,” Moore said.
One individual from each protest group made battery reports against the other side that will be investigated by the LAPD, Moore said.
KPCC reporter Frank Stoltze was shoved, kicked and had his glasses “ripped off” by a group of protesters, Stoltze wrote on Twitter, saying it was the first time anything like that happened in his 30 years of reporting. According to the LAist, which is owned by KPCC, Stoltze said the LAPD officers at the scene didn’t intervene. Moore said Tuesday that Stoltze declined to complete a crime report against the alleged assailants.
Anyone with information on the stabbing was asked to call LAPD Central Area Detective Cheng at 213-996-1248. Calls made during non-business hours or on weekends should be made to 877-527-3247.
Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at lacrimestoppers.org.