About 50 anti-vaccine protesters who marched to the entrance to the Dodger Stadium coronavirus vaccination site on Saturday, Jan. 30 prompted officials to close the gate for almost an hour before the protesters dispersed.
Traffic into the stadium was halted from 1:50 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., when people carrying signs and chanting slogans walked to the gate, which officials shut to prevent demonstrators from entering the site, said David Ortiz, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Fire Department.
Images on social media showed people with signs reading “Covid = scam,” “99.96 survival rate,” and “Tell Bill Gates to Vaccinate Himself,” a reference to a baseless conspiracy theory that microchips would be implanted in vaccines that could be used to control the population by a New World Order.
Others chanted “This is not a vaccine,” “Sheep led to their slaughter” and “This is a treatment. You are submitting to be a lab rat in real time.”
Everyone in line eventually got vaccinated, Ortiz said.
No arrests were made, said Los Angeles Police Department Officer Rosario Cervantes. The LAPD later tweeted out that it was not their department that shut the gate.
One protester later said the group made no attempt to step into the vaccination site. The majority of the protesters were supporters of Donald Trump, but they purposely did not wear pro-Trump attire or carry American flags to better communicate their anti-vaxxing message, said the protester, 26-year-old Jairo Rodriguez of Hollywood. And they did not wear masks, he said.
LAPD officers were aware and prepared for the scheduled demonstration prior to protesters arriving, Cervantes said. She declined to discuss police tactics.
Health officials expect to vaccinate 12,000 people a day at the stadium, thought to be the largest vaccination site in the nation.
Videos and photos of the protests were widely shared on social media, drawing ire and outrage from users, some of whom pointed to the continued waves of deaths from COVID-19 in the county, which has been the epicenter of a brutal surge of positive cases across the nation.
Others decried what they saw as an uneven police response, contrasting LAPD’s role in Saturday’s demonstration with responses to anti-racist, Black Lives Matter protests throughout 2020 where protesters were met with use of force.
Neither Orange County nor City of Riverside law enforcement officials were adjusting security measures in response to Saturday’s protest at Dodger Stadium.
In Orange County, an incident management team consisting of county personnel, law enforcement and firefighters had security measures in place should such a disruption take place, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.
Disneyland in Anaheim and Soka University in Aliso Viejo are the two largest vaccination sites in the county.
At the Riverside Convention Center, the Police Department’s civilian personnel and medical workers administering the shots would alert police in the event of a protest, spokesman Ryan Railsback said.
“We’re just a quick phone call away,” he said.
Jodi Miller of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department also said deputies would respond to calls for service as needed. The county is about to open two large sites, at the Auto Club Speedway on Tuesday, Feb. 2 and the Ontario Convention Center starting Thursday, Feb. 4.
This article was originally published on ‘Tell Bill Gates to Vaccinate Himself’: Anti-vaccination protest leads to shutdown of California vaccination site
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