Independent videographer punched while covering anti-vaccine protest in LA
Vishal Singh, a videographer who works on Netflix documentaries and has been covering demonstrations in Los Angeles since May 2020, said he was punched multiple times while documenting protests at a restaurant in Los Angeles, California, on July 29, 2021.
Local digital outlet WeHoTimes reported that the West Hollywood restaurant Harlowe had become a target of anti-vaccine protests because of its policy requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter the premises. Similar stipulations have been put in place across the country in order to curb the spread of coronavirus variations, particularly amid unvaccinated populations.
Singh told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he arrived to document the protest at approximately 7 p.m., having reported on violence that broke out at the restaurant the night before. By the time he began filming from across the street, a scuffle had broken out between the protesters and another individual and the crowd began following the man down the street.
I was just severely injured by a mob of anti-vaxxers. They were surrounding and assaulting someone. I went to film and help him escape. They attacked from behind. Possible concussion. Maced. Had to fight them off me by myself. Deployed mace in self defense after I was concussed. pic.twitter.com/NTkn6A8XJT— Vishal P. Singh (They/He) (@VPS_Reports) July 30, 2021
As the crowd turned down an alley, Singh said they directed their attention on him; in footage of the incident a man can be seen positioning himself behind Singh, bumping the videographer with his shoulder and then punching Singh multiple times as Singh defends himself. In the footage, Singh’s press badge can be seen on a lanyard around his neck.
Singh said a second individual then ripped the mask off his face and the man again punched him, knocking him to the ground. Singh told the Tracker he continued defending himself and used pepper spray to disperse the crowd until he was eventually able to leave the area.
“I felt that if I turned around they would chase me and beat me more, so I really didn’t have a choice but to stand my ground and defend myself,” Singh said.
Singh said he immediately went to a hospital, where he was told he suffered multiple breaks to his eye sockets and nose as a result of the attack.
Singh told the Tracker the day after the incident that he hadn’t yet filed a police report about the incident.