Dozens of people have been arrested in Los Angeles following a chaotic and sometimes violent rally by anti-transgender protesters who attacked a Koreatown spa that has a trans inclusion policy that allows trans women to use women’s facilities.
Saturday marked the second weekend of violent protests this month on the streets around Wi Spa, a neighborhood business that has found itself at the heart of a right-wing media storm for an alleged incident in which a customer filmed himself herself complaining about a trans woman in the spa’s women’s area.
Far-right protesters called for a boycott of Wi Spa and chanted unsubstantiated claims about pedophilia, while women carrying signs reading “Protect women’s spaces” and “It’s worse in women’s shelters” marched alongside men wearing helmets and masks covering their faces.
Calls to defend “women’s spaces” and “women’s shelters” have become war cries of anti-trans groups, who have falsely suggested that trans-inclusive policies endanger cis women. California has had laws for years that allow trans people to use facilities that match their gender.
Chants and posters in Los Angeles on Saturday highlighted the convergence of anti-trans activism with other currents of far-right activism. Many protesters chanted “Save our children”, a catchphrase adopted by QAnon conspiracy theorists, whose ideology centers on an elaborate narrative about a clique of influential pedophiles. Other protesters wore T-shirts that promised to assassinate left-wing activists, referring to the right-wing death squads in Chile in the 1970s. According to several protesters, Arthur Schaper, the leader of the California chapter of an anti-LGBT hate group, He arrived early at the protest outside Wi Spa and took refuge behind a line of police officers as trans rights protesters interrupted him.
For hours on Saturday, the neighborhood around Wi Spa was filled with lines of police in riot helmets and clashes between police officers and protesters, with reports of less lethal weapons being used against trans rights and anti-fascist activists who came forward as part of a counter-protest against far-right protesters. The volatile protests, in the middle of any given Saturday, left some passersby confused and fearful.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department said police made several dozen arrests for failing to disperse after declaring a gathering illegal shortly after 11 a.m. LAPD also seemed fire Rubber bullets targeting transgender rights protesters from a close distance, despite a recent ruling by a judge restricting the department’s use of certain “less lethal” projectile launchers against protesters. A Guardian journalist who tried to interview far-right protesters was chased, pushed and thrown to the ground.
The images also showed LAPD officers taking a trans flag protesters, and the police department later released a Photo of a piece of wood painted with a rainbow left behind, claiming it was some kind of rape.
Far-right groups and Republican lawmakers have increasingly targeted trans people over the past year as part of a broader culture war, with anti-LGBTQ campaigns and a host of anti-trans state bills, including legislation targeting health care for trans youth and trying to prevent trans girls from participating in women’s sports.
Right-wing American media have spent several weeks turning the inclusive politics of a local Korean seaside resort into national news. Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Show put the spotlight on Wi Spa at the end of June, highlighting a viral video of the client that complained to the spa employees . In the video, the spa employees politely reiterated the company’s nondiscrimination policies and compliance with the law, as the client argued, “There are no transgender people.”
A Los Angeles LBGT newspaper later reported that there was questions about the veracity of the accusations in the viral video, and what was It is unclear if there were transgender clients present. at the spa when the video was shot.
The following Saturday, July 3, he saw violent clashes around the spa when anti-trans protesters showed up to protest Wi Spa, and local anti-fascist and trans rights activists came forward to defend it. Police said they made no arrests during the first round of chaotic protests, despite several violent attacks captured on video.
Amber Hooper from Orange County had witnessed the violence in early July in shock and had decided to come to Wi Spa with a friend for the second counter-protest on Saturday, July 17, after local activists said protesters from far right were planning to come back. Friends said they wanted to represent their community and hoped the violence would stop.
It was frustrating to see that “people who speak out about law and order are against the laws that protect trans people,” Hooper said. “Trans rights are human rights.”
Jamie Penn, a neighborhood doctor and activist, said the trans rights protesters wanted to protect the spa and their business, but that the spa itself was trying to stay neutral and seemed to want the whole situation to go away.
Wi Spa did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ongoing protests. “Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa,” Wi Spa had said in a statement to Los Angeles Magazine in late June, noting that California law prohibits businesses from discriminating against trans people. “Wi Spa strives to satisfy the needs of all its customers.”
Southern California has long been a center of right-wing extremism, including violent pro-Trump rallies, militia groups, activist ties to QAnon and white supremacist organizations, and many of the accused California defendants. of participating in the pro-Trump insurrection of January 6 in the United States Capitol came from Los Angeles and the surrounding cities.
LAPD has faced intense scrutiny for its aggressive response to protesters, including several reports in recent months concluding that officers used excessive force and violated their own policies during last year’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations, in some cases causing serious injuries that required hospitalization.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism