Earlier in July, Daily Kos covered a violent mob of far-right protesters descending upon Wi Spa in Los Angeles, California. Why the mob? A customer of the spa shared a video to Instagram in which she alleged she saw a trans woman in the women’s section of the spa. In the video, customers confront spa staff and question the spa’s trans-inclusive policies, asserting that trans women aren’t actually women. Wi Spa is a clothing-optional spa where nudity is permitted. It is also known for being LGBTQ-friendly. Staff backed their policies and the videos went viral.
Now, here’s where things get interesting: We’ve covered one violent mob outside of the spa, and as of Saturday, a second protest became violent, with 40 people being arrested. Even more interesting? The staff said none of their frequent trans customers were actually scheduled for the spa on the day of the incident (the spa is appointment only), and an anonymous source from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) told the Los Angeles Blade they haven’t found corroborating evidence that a trans person was there that day, either. The alleged trans woman has not been identified by any source, leading people to question: Is this whole thing a hoax? We can’t say either way for sure, but let’s look at what we do know below.
If you’d like to spare yourself from watching the original video, the woman filming it says in part: “It’s okay for a man to go into the women’s section, show his penis around the other women, young little girls … underage … in your spa? Wi Spa condones that? Is that what you’re saying?” She goes on to describe the alleged person’s genitalia and insists she is not a woman because of it.
As anti-trans protesters and counterprotests gathered again outside of Wi Spa on Saturday, police officers in riot gear appeared at the rally. Police declared an unlawful assembly around noon after people began throwing objects. As reported by BuzzFeed News, one person was arrested for having a prohibited weapon, while 39 were arrested for failing to disperse.
As reported by The Guardian, far-right demonstrators chanted rally cries common among the QAnon conspiracy theorists, including “save our children.” Some protestors wore masks that covered their faces while some carried signs that read “protect female spaces” and “it’s worse in women’s shelters.” The context here is that trans women are welcome in women’s shelters in California (as should be the standard in the entire country) and people like to stir up anti-trans hate and hysteria, suggesting trans women are inherently violent to cis women. Mind you, trans women are more likely to be victims of violence than offenders.
A journalist for The Guardian said she was “thrown to the ground” by right-wing protesters who threw water at her and screamed about Jesus.
Here is some more footage of the protest, as shared on Twitter. In some videos, you can see officers hit people with batons and push them. Los Angeles Magazine reports that officers dispatched beanbag rounds and foam bullets as well.
Democrats have also begun tweeting about it.
As seen in one viral clip, an LAPD officer shot a protester—it’s unclear where, but chest, stomach, and hand all seem possible via the footage—with a rubber bullet at close range, which was described as “less than lethal” force by Bruce Thomas, a law enforcement expert, interviewed by local outlet ABC 7.
As seen in the clip, the protester falls to the ground after being shot. You can see both the interview snippet and the shooting below.
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