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Dozens of evangelical Christians and activists skirmished in the streets of skid row Wednesday night as controversial evangelical Christian singer Sean Feucht's followers arrived for a homeless outreach event.
Activists assembled dozens of vehicles leading into skid row to try to block Feucht, who has staged largely maskless concerts nationwide to protest COVID-19 restrictions on religious worship. The protesters worried the outreach could catalyze a coronavirus super-spreader event among skid row's vulnerable homeless population.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department were on hand to stop any violence, Mayor Eric Garcetti said earlier in the day. Protesters spilled out of the vehicles, chanting, "No mask, go home" and "You don't look like Jesus. You came here to kill us."
Feucht, apparently in response, moved the outreach a block away. One maskless worshiper, wearing a T-shirt saying "Jesus is my lifeguard," laid hands on a homeless man lying on the sidewalk, reciting "Satan, be silent. Go away." She waved off hand sanitizer, and dashed a mask a protester had handed her to the ground and stamped on it.
But many of Feucht's followers were in masks, although social distancing was nonexistent. It was unclear, however, whether Feucht was present.
Feucht has another outreach planned for Thursday at a homeless tent city in Echo Park, and a concert and party scheduled that evening for a church parking lot in Valencia.
Stephen "Cue" Jn-Marie, pastor of skid row's Church Without Walls and a blockade organizer, said activists plan to bring their protest to the home of Garcetti, whom he blamed for failing to stop Feucht's gatherings.
"They should have shut down this," Jn-Marie said. "I'm angry."
Added Pete White, executive director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network: "You cannot bring a super-spreader event into a community as vulnerable as skid row and think people won't show up. Even when the city has refused to stop the event, the people will."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.