LOS ANGELES — Demonstrators clashed outside a Koreatown spa on Saturday after a transgender woman apparently disrobed in an area reserved for women.
A few far-right protesters appeared to be outnumbered by those favoring transgender rights. Police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly in the afternoon, said Officer Frank Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Officers spread out at the scene, and an LAPD helicopter whirled overhead as demonstrators shouted at each other and, in a few cases, exchanged blows, according to social media video from the scene.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Nicholas Prange said one person who was assaulted sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a medical facility in a private ambulance.
The protest was prompted by an incident captured on video and shared on social media of a woman complaining to Wi Spa USA workers about a trans customer who disrobed, thus displaying her penis in an area where women are nude. The incident occurred about a week ago. The workers stood by the trans woman and said legally they cannot discriminate against her.
Some of the protesters, according to images and videos from the scene, included apparent QAnon supporters with T-shirts that mention the term “Pedowood,” a a baseless theory about a secret cabal of Satanist child abusers in government, entertainment and the media.
Video showed demonstrators clashing with each other and with police. Protesters’ chants included, “Save our children,” another expression affiliated with QAnon.
The story of the spa controversy was first reported by Los Angeles magazine.
“Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa,” Wi Spa USA told the publication. “Wi Spa strives to meet the needs of all its customers.”
A lawyer representing the spa, Peter F. Jazayeri, said in a statement Saturday that the business is abiding by California law that prohibits discrimination based on “gender expression.”
“California law prohibits discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people in business establishments,” Jazayeri said.
Blankstein reported from Los Angeles and Romero from San Diego.
Protesters clash outside Los Angeles spa over trans woman disrobing is written by Andrew Blankstein and Dennis Romero for www.nbcnews.com