Maskless protesters force their way into LA market

by: Carlos Saucedo and Erika Martin

Posted: Dec 30, 2020 / 11:09 AM PST
/ Updated: Dec 30, 2020 / 11:09 AM PST

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Los Angeles police responded after a mass of maskless demonstrators forced their way into an Erewhon Market in the Fairfax district Tuesday afternoon in protest of coronavirus restrictions.

Officers responded to the store on Beverly Boulevard around 3:30 p.m., according to the L.A. Police Department’s Wilshire Division.

Video captured by bystander Ira Brian Miller shows staff trying to keep the maskless people out amid pushing and shoving.

“They were pushing their way in,” Miller told the Los Angeles Times. “They were trying to push the workers out of the way for them to enter the store.”

About 50 people protested safety guidelines by either taking off their masks inside the store or entering without a face covering, LAPD said.

Sky5 was above the grocery store around 4:40 p.m., as several maskless people remained scattered outside the store. One man was seen holding a sign that read “#No vaccine against tyranny.”

Organizers say they showed up because they feel coronavirus restrictions have gotten out of hand.

“We’re not here coughing everything, smearing everything,” Jason Traver said. “We just want to shop, we want to take our own precautions that we’ve been doing all of our lives, and we’ll be fine.”

Traver said he feels the vaccine will be “a whole can of worms” and he’d “rather people just step up and fight.”

Officers stayed on scene to monitor the situation and ensure it didn’t escalate, but police said no arrests were made.

After leaving Erewhon, some protesters walked to a nearby Trader Joe’s and claimed medical reasons for being maskless. There, they were told to get in a separate line before they were let in to shop.

The demonstration comes as L.A. County continues to see a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases, with hospitals overwhelmed. On Tuesday, officials said the county’s hospitals are turning to “crisis care,” meaning they will ration treatment when staff, medicine and supplies are in short supply.

A record 7,181 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in L.A. County on Tuesday — a 1,000% increase from two months ago, public health officials said.

“It’s very frustrating because in L.A. right now we have less than 0% capacity ICU beds,” said one bystander, who gave his name only as Cody. “The least you could do is wear a mask. And I don’t know why you’re trying to attack a business that’s just trying to survive during the pandemic.”

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