West Hollywood’s Pride celebration was marred over the weekend when Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies arrested two volunteers working at a booth at the event’s street fair. Video of the incident has gone viral, with critics blasting the deputies’ use of force and claiming that the arrests stemmed from trumped up charges against one volunteer related to a previous altercation with an anti-LGBTQ+ activist.
On Saturday, June 3, Abby Thomas and Xodiak Rose were reportedly helping to set up a booth for nonprofit organization Equal Means Equal. According to Thomas and other bystanders, several LASD deputies passed by the booth and allegedly laughed at one of the organization’s signs. Rose, a trans activist, reportedly confronted the deputies, telling them not to laugh at the group’s sign and asserting, “This is why we don’t want cops at Pride.”
One protestor was banned from the state Capitol for a year for holding a banner that said “Let Trans Kids Grow Up.”
In video recorded by bystanders in the aftermath of the arrest and posted to Equal Means Equal’s YouTube channel, witnesses say that approximately five minutes later, several deputies returned to the booth, tackling Rose from behind and wrestling them to the ground. When Thomas reportedly attempted to intervene, she was also thrown to the ground and cuffed.
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The pair repeatedly asked why they were being arrested and were eventually told that Rose had an arrest warrant for robbery. Witnesses claimed that deputies passed by the booth where Rose was volunteering several times, but it was only after Rose expressed their objection to police presence at the event that they were arrested.
Witnesses also disputed LASD deputies’ claims that Thomas “interfered” with Rose’s arrest.
Later on Saturday, LASD released a statement saying that Rose was booked on charges of robbery, vandalism, and battery stemming from an April incident at the West Hollywood library.
According to Rolling Stone reporter Samuel Braslow, who was present at the West Hollywood library and recorded video of the April 15 incident, Rose was among a group of counter-protesters who gathered to support a drag queen story hour event. The group, which far outnumbered those opposed to the event, held umbrellas to block anti-LGBTQ+ protesters and blasted a siren to drown out anti-LGBTQ+ messaging.
Video recorded by Barslow shows counter-protesters surrounding anti-LGBTQ+ activist Jairo Rodriguez, who was attempting to record the event on his cell phone. Rose can be seen in the video vogueing in front of Rodriguez. At one point, another counter-protester attacks Rodriguez, causing him to drop his phone. Rose can be seen stomping on the phone before two police officers break up the fight. Seconds later, Rodriguez can clearly be seen with his phone, and in later video can be seen inside the library continuing to record with it as Rose again vogues in front of him.
According to Barslow, Rodriguez also later uploaded a video of the library incident to his social media channels, further suggesting that his phone was neither stolen nor damaged.
Rolling Stone reports that after reviewing the evidence submitted by the Sheriff’s Department, the LA District Attorney’s office has declined to pursue the robbery and battery charges against Rose, leaving only the charge of misdemeanor vandalism. As of Monday, Rose was reportedly still in police custody. An operations lieutenant told the magazine that video of the incident at the library would be “useful information that I could forward to one of our detective sergeants.”
According to LA’s NBC News 4, the LASD is conducting a use of force investigation into the arrests at WeHo Pride.
Meanwhile, Daily Kos has reportedly confirmed that Rodriguez is the owner and operator of the “Right Now Views” Telegram chatroom. The outlet describes the chatroom as “filled with far-right and pro-Trump conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric.” Rodriguez reportedly spent weeks following the altercation at the West Hollywood Library targeting Rose, with other users threatening violence against Rose.
A post in Rodriguez’s chatroom about a “No Cops At Pride” protest in response to the June 3 arrests reportedly led one user to respond: “pls succed so we can gun them down on site.”