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Violence erupted Saturday outside an upscale Los Angeles spa, where opposing demonstrators clashed over transgender rights.
According to ABC 7, the protests were sparked by a viral video in which a woman confronted Wi Spa employees for allowing a trans individual to disrobe in the women’s area.
“So, it’s OK for a man to go into the women’s section, show his penis around the other women, young little girls, underage, in your spa?” the woman is heard saying in the video. “Wi Spa condones that, is that what you’re saying? … He’s a man. He is a man. He is not no female.”
Shortly after the video began circulating on social media, the woman behind the camera confirmed she was planning to organize a protest outside the Spa located in L.A.’s Koreatown. On Saturday morning, a group of demonstrators with religious, transphobic, and homophobic signs gathered outside the establishment demanding the spa to change their policy. Counter-protestors were also at the scene to show support for the business and the trans community.
It wasn’t long before the tensions escalated into physical violence, prompting the Los Angeles Police Department to declare an unlawful assembly. Authorities told ABC 7 that no arrests were made during the incident, but at least five people were injured; three of them were victims of assault and battery, while the other two were victims of assault with a deadly weapon.
A woman who came to protest the spa gets surrounded and pushed out. She repeatedly says that she doesn’t want to see penises. pic.twitter.com/laWj7IzOnl— Samuel Braslow (@SamBraslow) July 3, 2021
The network reports it is unclear which side the injured individuals were on.
Police repeatedly use batons to push back counter protesters and strike a man on the ground. pic.twitter.com/Djr1UQtnQk— Samuel Braslow (@SamBraslow) July 3, 2021
Wi Spa has released a statement defending its policy when it comes to accommodating transgender and gender non-conforming customers.
“Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa,” the statement read. “Wi Spa strives to meet the needs and safety of all of its customers, and does not tolerate harassment or lewd conduct by any customer, regardless of their sex, gender, or other characteristic.”
Wi Spa also cited California laws that prohibit discrimination against a person’s race, color, sexual orientation, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, and sex; the latter of which also includes a person’s gender, gender identity, and gender expression.
“Thus, California law prohibits discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people in business establishments,” the statement continued.
Another demonstration in support of the trans community is scheduled for Sunday at MacArthur Park.