After 40 to 60 anti-vaccination protestors shut down the COVID-19 mass inoculation center at Dodger Stadium for nearly an hour on Saturday, officials will establish a dedicated protest zone at the site so that future demonstrators may rail against the vaccine without causing further delays for people who want the shots, ABC 7 reports.
Although no arrests were made and, according to the mayor’s office, no appointments were canceled at the vaccination site—one of the nation’s largest—when the protestors clogged Stadium Way waving signs deriding the use of face masks and shouting baseless claims about vaccinations, it’s unknown if any of the hundreds of motorists who had been waiting in line gave up their spots during the 55 minutes that the Fire Department shut the main entrance.
LAFD Assistant Chief Ellsworth Fortman, who oversees the department’s COVID-19 response, told the Los Angeles Times that 5,740 doses of the vaccine were issued Saturday at the site, which distributes an average of 5,700 to 7,700 doses a day, and that workers were still vaccinating people inside the stadium throughout the temporary shutdown.
“At the end of the day, it didn’t really impact much,” he said. “I feel bad for those folks [who] ended up waiting an additional 50 minutes.”
But despite such assurances, some community leaders are incensed that police exercised what they see as unwarranted restraint in dealing with the protestors, noting that the LAPD has often been considerably more robust in its response toward Black Lives Matter and other anti-brutality demonstrators.
L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo, whose district includes Dodger Stadium, told the Times, “Look, the world sees this. What it does is it undermines our public safety community. It’s not good for our public safety community for people to believe that there’s inequitable treatment. That does not help them do their job. When some people get coddled and others don’t.”
Fortman said the decision to close the gate as the crowd approached the Stadium Way entrance was made not only to protect workers inside, but also because the protestors were a danger to themselves as they marched into traffic, adding that they dispersed around 3 p.m., minutes after police warned them that they could be arrested.
Last Wednesday, the demonstration was promoted on a Facebook page that’s been associated with recent anti-mask actions at local malls and grocery stores, which many worry are putting shoppers as well as essential workers at risk. Councilman Cedillo had essential workers on his mind this weekend.
“This mob feels they have a right to try to stop people like seniors, janitors, housekeepers, restaurant workers, and supermarket workers from getting the vaccine that they covet,” he said. “That they want. It’s just very offensive. Very arrogant. It’s an incredible sense of entitlement.”