A Long Beach man has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly stabbing a member of a group protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates last month during dueling demonstrations in downtown Los Angeles.
The felony charge against 30-year-old Eric Cohen includes an allegation that he personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victim on Aug. 14.
Cohen was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The victim suffered a lacerated heart and punctured lung, but is expected to survive, according to Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore.
During a Thursday morning appearance on KTLA5, the police chief said video from the scene of the Aug. 14 protests outside Los Angeles City Hall also captured the stabbing of a counterprotester, but that victim has not yet come forward.
Vaccine supporters had gathered 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-vaccine mandate protesters were on City Hall’s South Lawn, and about 30 to 50 counterprotesters were at First and Spring, according to police. The LAPD deployed 100 personnel to the event.
Video from the scene showed the anti-mandate crowd yelling at the other side from across First Street, with the scene subsequently devolving into a melee.
Both sides could be seen exchanging punches and throwing objects at each other. The clash lasted about two minutes, Moore said.
“This anti-vax debate is manifesting itself in protests and demonstrations and violence in other parts of the country as well,” Moore said during the appearance on KTLA. “In Los Angeles, we’re not going to stand for it. Our arrest last night demonstrates that we’ll put whatever resources we need to identify those responsible for such violence and bring them to criminal justice system.”