LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Homeless activists set up a vehicle “blockade'' Wednesday night along Skid Row in an attempt to stop Evangelical Christian Sean Feucht from starting a series of New Year's concerts amid concerns from some that the gatherings could be super-spreader events for coronavirus.
A row of vehicles lined a stretch of road near the intersection of Fifth Street and Towne Avenue, about an hour before the planned 7 p.m. start of the show.
“We made it clear, if they want to come to this community, with masks on, we're OK,'' Stephen “Cue'' Jn-Marie, pastor of Church Without Walls on Skid Row, one of the leaders of the blockade, told KCAL9.
Feucht, a volunteer pastor and failed Republican congressional candidate from Redding, has a history of defying COVID-19 health mandates. He's been on tour hosting “Let Us Worship'' open-air concerts nationwide to push back against government restrictions on religious gatherings.
“We're just coming and praising, we're not doing anything that's illegal, anything that's harming anyone,'' Hina Sheik, a “Let Us Worship'' attendee told the station.
Video from the scene showed at least one of the acts performing while wearing masks as activists banged on metal pots in an attempt to drown out the show. Feucht did not attend the event, KCAL9 said.
Besides Wednesday's performance on Skid Row, Feucht has another event planned Thursday at Echo Park Lake, followed by a New Year's Eve party at a church parking lot in Valencia.
Some of the singer's events have featured hundreds of maskless worshipers tightly packed together as they sing and dance, which is something Skid Row activists said they fear could further spread the virus at a critical time when Los Angeles County is facing record case counts and a severe shortage of intensive care hospital beds.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also extended the state's stay-at-home order banning public gatherings.
Charles Karuku, a Feucht associate who travels with the singer, told the Los Angeles Times that they tell followers to heed government health guidelines, “but we are not law enforcement. It's up to the people how they choose to come.''
Feucht's Facebook page, in a Tuesday post, stated: “Our epic 2020 journey with God across America culminates in Los Angeles in just two days. Join us in person and online ...'' On Twitter Wednesday, he wrote, “THE GREATER THE RESISTANCE, THE GREATER THE BREAKTHROUGH!''
A Facebook event page for the New Year's Eve event, happening at 9 p.m. to midnight at 28776 The Old Road in Valencia, showed that 479 people had indicated they were “going'' -- although it was unclear if they planned to physically be there or watch online.
In a YouTube video posted with the script “Claiming the coast of California for JESUS!!! #LetUsWorship,'' Feucht was with his family on the beach when he said, “We are launching into this epic two days together ... as we join with thousands from across America in person -- and online,'' leaving a deliberate pause between “in person'' and “online.''
Feucht said he's “excited to party in the New Year together'' with surprises planned at midnight and celebrate the New Year “by seeing God break out in Los Angeles,'' noting that “God is not finished with California.''
He also noted that he's planning to provide meals to the homeless during his events.
The California Poor People's Campaign wrote a letter calling for city and county officials to stop Feucht's events and enforce health orders against gatherings.
Feucht also has events scheduled in Orange County and San Diego, according to his website.
Photo: Getty Images