U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Correspondent threatened, kicked during anti-vaccine protest at LA’s City Hall

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 14, 2021

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
Yes
August 14, 2021

Frank Stoltze, a correspondent for the NPR station KPCC and LAist, was threatened, shoved and kicked while covering an anti-vaccine protest outside LA’s City Hall on Aug. 14, 2021.

Demonstrators had gathered for a rally advertised as a “stop socialism, choose freedom march against medical tyranny” to protest COVID-19 vaccination requirements and mask mandates, Stoltze wrote in an account for LAist. Stoltze, who did not respond to an emailed request for comment, wrote that demonstrators carried pro-Trump flags, signs calling for the recall of California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other signs and banners.

While the demonstration on the south lawn of the City Hall grounds remained peaceful, Stoltze told LAist that some fights broke out on the edges of the rally.

“Just a few steps into the park, I noticed a man with a bloody bandage on his head,” Stoltze wrote. “I asked what had happened and he said he’d gotten into a fight with ‘antifa.’”

Stoltze wrote that he identified himself as a journalist and asked the man if he’d be willing to be interviewed; the man declined. When Stoltze asked if he’d be willing to speak anonymously, the men with the injured man immediately started cursing at and threatening Stoltze.

“One shoved me in the chest. Another came from behind, grabbed my hat, and ripped my prescription sunglasses off my head,” Stoltze wrote. “As I turned to leave, I told them I was going to find a cop. They called me an anti-gay slur and ‘little bitch.’”

Footage captured by journalist Andrew Kimmel shows part of the attack; as Stoltze walked away from the group of men, they followed him. Someone also ran up behind Stoltze and kicked him. According to Stoltze’s written account, the same man later knocked his phone out of his hands while Stoltze tried to film the man harassing others. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker was unable to determine whether Stoltze’s phone was damaged.

“I was attacked,” Stoltze wrote. “I’m fine. But I’m mad as hell.”

The LAPD confirmed that Stoltze filed a police complaint, HuffPost reported. According to LAist, no arrests have been made in connection with the assault.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]