Independent videographer shoved with baton during protest at LA’s Wi Spa

July 3, 2021

Vishal Singh, a videographer who works on Netflix documentaries and has been covering demonstrations in Los Angeles since May 2020, said he was shoved with a baton and aimed at with a crowd-control weapon by a police officer while covering demonstrations outside a spa in Los Angeles, California, on July 3, 2021.

Wi Spa, located in LA’s Koreatown, became a flashpoint for anti-transgender demonstrators as the result of a viral video which police are now treating as a hoax, Slate reported. A loose coalition of LGBTQ, antifa and leftist demonstrators had assembled outside the spa shortly before 10 a.m. in support of transgender individuals’ rights.

Singh told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he was covering the confrontations between the anti-transgender demonstrators and pro-LGBTQ counterprotesters outside the spa, which included the assault of documentarian Rocky Romano and the stabbings of at least two demonstrators.

“After all of that went down, the LAPD came in and declared an unlawful assembly and tried to divide the sides, but not very well,” Singh said.

“At some point I was just walking by the police line and an officer just stepped out of line to push me, and I said, ‘What was that for?’ and they started shoving me and shoving a bunch of other people with batons,” Singh said. He also said that later in the day an officer deliberately aimed a less-lethal weapon at him from only a few feet away.

Singh said he was wearing his full collection of protective gear — including a helmet and flak jacket labeled with “PRESS” — in addition to his press badge. Singh can be seen in a photo from that day posted to Twitter by independent photojournalist Ashley Balderrama.

The Los Angeles Police Department did not respond to an email requesting comment.

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

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