Dozens were arrested and weapons were found scattered across the ground in Koreatown where dueling protests over transgender rights outside a local spa Saturday prompted police to send a mass alert warning of an unlawful assembly, with authorities sending a public safety alert to people in the area warning that those who did not disperse would face arrest.
According to LA local news outlet KTLA, the protesters were at the spa showing support of the venue’s trans-inclusive policy, which allows trans women to use women’s facilities. Earlier in the month, a customer shared a video on Instagram of her interaction with Wi Spa management. Within the visual, the woman is visibly outraged because she says a male patron took his clothes off and showed his genitals to young girls. The patron the woman was referring to also reportedly identifies as a woman.
“He is a man,” the woman says in the now viral video. “He is not a female. There are girls down there, other women who are highly offended by what they just saw and you did nothing. You sided with him.”
LGBTQ Protestors began clashing with counter-protestors and police shortly after the incident occurred. On Saturday (July 17), however, LAPD declared the scene an unlawful assembly after smoke bombs and other projectiles were hurled at officers, LAPD Det. Meghan Aguilar said.
Around 11 a.m. LAPD began ordering protestors to clear out. “All corners except the southwest corner of Wilshire Blvd and Rampart Blvd have been designated protest zones for this incident,” the LAPD tweeted.
The area has cleared of protesters. Many people chose to leave although several dozen refused and have been arrested for failure to disperse. Numerous weapons -including knives and mace- were found on the ground in the area where the arrests were made
— LAPD PIO (@LAPDPIO) July 17, 2021
While most demonstrators left on their own will, many others pushed back and refused to leave the area. The LAPD arrested them for “failure to disperse.” Videos shared on social media show police robed in riot gear shooting bean bag rounds and 40-millimeter hard-foam projectiles at protesters. Several weapons including a stun gun, pepper spray, knives and mace were found on the ground in the area where the arrests were made, LAPD tweeted. No serious injuries have been reported.
Check out the viral video that sparked the protests below:
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) July 18, 2021
People want to say this wasn’t a demonstration about transgender rights? Here’s @LAPDHQ, after defending transphobes, destroying a transgender flag.
Anybody who reports on Wi Spa without mentioning the transphobia at play by the far right & LAPD are disingenuous. ?caropej (IG) pic.twitter.com/1BzVYRQvb7
— Vishal P. Singh (@VPS_Reports) July 17, 2021
At a protest near Wilshire Bl & Rampart Bl, 2 groups clashed. Smoke bombs/projectiles were thrown at ofcrs & a dispersal order was issued. Several dozen people were arrested. Numerous items in violation of 55.07 LAMC were found discarded including a stungun, knives, pepper spray pic.twitter.com/exk7vvTfRm
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 17, 2021
Wi Spa defended its policy in a statement which reads in part: “Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa. Wi Spa strives to meet the needs and safety of all of its customers, and does not tolerate harassment or lewd conduct by any customer, regardless of their sex, gender, or other characteristic.”