Access to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, called the nation’s largest mass vaccination site, was halted for an hour after a small group of protesters showed up to decry the immunization drive.
The entrance to the stadium, which has been serving as a mass vaccination site since mid-January, was sealed at around 2pm local time after a sparse crowd of protesters staged a rally near the gate.
Footage on social media shows several dozen protesters with signs reading “Covid is a Scam,” “End the Lockdown,” “99 percent survival rate,” and “No Vaccine.”
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The Los Angeles Times reported that the decision to block people from driving inside the gate came from the Los Angeles Fire Department as a precaution.
The site was off limits to those waiting to be vaccinated for about an hour. It was not immediately clear why the stadium was temporarily closed. Author Mikel Jollett tweeted that “only about 30 protestors total” took part in the demonstration.
Footage posted by local reporter Emily Holshouser shows police securing the gate and preventing anyone from getting inside. In the video, a man asks an officer at the gate why they cannot let anybody in. The officer replies that he’s only following orders. “Right now it’s closed. You are not going to get through anybody right now. Just wait in your car, that’s the best you can do right now,” he said.
Shortly before the gates were unblocked, a caravan of several police vehicles – apparently back-up – were seen arriving.
While some people on social media placed the blame on the police for hindering the vaccination campaign, the LAPD denied that it had anything to do with the closure.
“The LAPD did NOT close the gates, and per LA City Fire, all scheduled vaccines will be delivered,” the police said in a statement, adding that the protesters remained peaceful.
LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore said the officers were working with public safety partners to ensure everyone who is scheduled to receive a shot won’t leave without being administered one.
In the series of tweets that followed, Moore repeatedly said that the protest did not trigger the closure.
“The protest did NOT shut down the vaccination site. ALL appointments are being met,” he stated.
Before being repurposed into a mass vaccination site, the stadium served as a mobile testing site. Earlier this month, Mayor Eric Garcetti estimated that up to 12,000 people per day can be vaccinated there.