LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County leaders today again decried a weekend protest that forced a temporary closure of the Dodger Stadium COVID-19 vaccination site, saying nobody should prevent people from accessing medical services.
“I would urge folks who want to make their point of view heard that they respect the right for people to seek their medical treatment, because we're going to be protecting that right at all of our sites,'' county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “It's fine for people to express their views peacefully, but it is not OK to impede the ability of people to get any kind of medical services. So I want to just reassure the public that's coming to our vaccination sites that it'll be safe.''
County and city officials said organizers will be designating locations at vaccination sites where protesters can gather to express themselves without impeding the flow of traffic into the facilities.
Access to the Dodger Stadium site was blocked for nearly an hour Saturday when a group of anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters gathered at the entrance. Many waved signs calling the COVID-19 pandemic a “scam'' and calling anyone who gets vaccinated a “lab rat.''
Andrea Garcia of Mayor Eric Garcetti's office said safety protocols were being reviewed at the Dodger Stadium site, which is run by the city, and organizers “will be setting up a protest zone in the event of any future protests.''
County Supervisor Hilda Solis said the same for county-run sites, reiterating that she was “very upset and disheartened'' at the actions of protesters on Saturday.
“It's hard enough just to get in the queue and then if there's a disruption that takes place that stalls the process, obviously it's a great concern to many of us, because you have people coming from all over the county to locations like Dodger Stadium,'' she said. “... I feel very strongly they should respect the rights of people who do want to get vaccinated.
“And I understand people have First Amendment rights as well, but when you become disruptive and actually create more problems through congestion, traffic jams and hostility ... then I would want to have our public safety officials involved.''
Ferrer added, “There's plenty of space in this world for people to have different views. And folks who don't feel that this vaccine would be helpful are not being forced to get vaccinated. But I ask that they respect the right of those people who want to get vaccinated to have a good experience while they're trying to get vaccinated.''
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