A subject in the video of the arrest stated, “This is why we have issues with police.”
On June 3, two activists were arrested while hosting a booth at West Hollywood’s Pride celebration. In a video taken shortly after the arrest, someone describes Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputies tackling activist Xodiak Rose to the ground. The deputies’ action has sparked criticism from many of the activists and politicians involved in the celebration.
Rose was taken into custody on a warrant for a suspected robbery that occurred on April 15 at a drag story hour hosted at the city library. Knock LA was unable to acquire any footage of the first moments of Rose’s arrest but spoke to several people who were shocked after seeing it in person.
Was It Robbery?
Journalists Jake Lee Green and Vishal P. Singh and activists have suggested a pattern of ignoring attacks by Jairo Rodriguez, the person claiming to be robbed.
Video footage shows Rodriguez, the alleged victim, arriving at the West Hollywood Library at the scheduled time of the drag story hour. A small group of anti-LGBTQ+ protesters is assembled outside the event, and a group of pro-LGBTQ+ activists are there to counterprotest. LASD deputies are also present. Rodriguez, who has organized numerous far-right events that occasionally led to violence, attempts to enter the library as counterprotesters try to block him. After Rodriguez retreats from the pro-LGBTQ+ activists and moves away from the library, a masked person grabs him from behind and Rodriguez’s phone and gimbal drop to the ground. One person, whom LASD detectives allege to be Rose, kicks the phone. Several others continue to wrestle with Rodriguez. A deputy can be heard commanding the crowd to “stop fighting.”
Knock LA spoke to several criminal attorneys who all stated that, while a robbery doesn’t have to be successful in order for a suspect to be charged, it is generally understood that there must be intent to take the property. The statute states, “Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.” Rodriguez’s phone was in his possession shortly after deputies told the crowd to stop fighting. Photos show him using the phone just moments after. Rodriguez also used the phone to post a video several minutes after the exchange.
Deputies arrived in the afternoon at a booth where Xodiak was volunteering. According to several onlookers in the video taken just after the arrest, several LASD deputies were seen chuckling at a sign in the booth while walking by. After a terse exchange between Rose and the deputies, deputies tackled Rose from behind.
In the video, one woman says the deputies “came and ambushed [Xodiak] from behind, no warning.” Subsequently, the deputies arrested a woman, accusing her of interfering. Multiple people in the video allege that she was simply asking questions of the deputies.
The video shows the woman in handcuffs while several LASD deputies hover over her. “This is why we have issues with the police, because of things like this,” a person can be heard saying. A crowd begins forming, some shouting at the deputies in anger over the arrest. “They’re lying, when they say she’s obstructing anything … that’s bullshit,” someone can be heard saying. Some in the crowd can be seen crying after witnessing the event.
Shortly after separate video footage of the aftermath of the arrest began to circulate on social media and went viral on Twitter, LASD made a statement both misgendering and deadnaming Rose.
The next day, West Hollywood mayor Sepi Shyne made a statement that “it’s deeply disconcerting to see images of anyone being held on the pavement surrounded by deputies in gear” and promised that there would be a “dialogue” with Sheriff Robert Luna of LASD. Shyne did not respond to Knock LA’s requests for clarification on what the dialogue would be about, but did say in the statement that “we’re also hearing from community members raising concerns about law enforcement and Pride.”
A History of Anti-LGBTQ+ Actions and Violence Against Members of the Press
Jairo Rodriguez, whose report of a stolen phone appears to have led to the arrest, is well known by activists as being involved in some of the highest-profile assemblies and protests organized by the far right.
He organized a series of transphobic protests at Wi Spa in Koreatown in August 2021. In the same month on a separate occasion, Rodriguez attempted to kick News2Share photographer Jake Lee Green. In Santa Monica on July 16, 2022, Rodriguez attempted to physically block the author of this piece from filming members of an anti-abortion group called “Baby Lives Matter” surrounding a counterprotester. At a Drag Story Hour in Sherman Oaks on April 22, 2023, Rodriguez attended alongside fellow far-right activists Shiva Bagheri and Paul Onaga, and the group began screaming at children and adults.
But Rodriguez’s track record of anti-LGBTQ+ actions goes beyond public displays of violence. He has a history of accusing activists of violence, labeling them as terrorists, and (oftentimes inaccurately) releasing the home addresses, legal names, and phone numbers of journalists and activists via social media. Rodriguez has been publicly targeting Rose and calling for their arrest in the weeks leading up to their arrest.
When contacted for comment, Rodriguez told Knock LA, “I haven’t attempted to steal anything.”
Allegations of a Lopsided Police Response
Though LASD appears to have taken Rodriguez’s accusations seriously, queer journalist Vishal P. Singh feels as though their own allegations of physical assault have been ignored by LASD’s West Hollywood detectives in the past.
In 2022, Singh was punched by right-wing agitator and former MMA amateur Mike Ancheta while others filmed at an anti-vaccine protest outside Harlowe in West Hollywood. “I couldn’t see very well, and my head was filled with pain. Blood was falling from my face. My glasses were shattered. I already had a broken hand in a cast from a previous assault against me at a protest — but now I had multiple broken bones in my face and eye sockets.”
Singh stated that they reported the incident to West Hollywood sheriffs, and that they “continually asked LASD detective David Cusiter for updates and got very little information.” Finally, several months later, the sheriffs requested Singh to identify Ancheta in a police lineup at the West Hollywood station. However, Singh was arrested and booked for battery related to the incident at Harlowe as well as one at Cedars-Sinai.
During an anti-mask protest outside a Cedars-Sinai breast cancer clinic in August 2021, Singh deployed pepper spray at advancing anti-mask protesters shortly after a brawl between anti-mask protesters and counterprotesters. The brawl began when Bagheri punched activist Kate Burns. Rodriguez hit a protester on the ground with a stolen helmet.
Emails provided by Singh show that Deputy District Attorney Janet Wilson told Singh the district attorney would not pursue a case against Ancheta. Despite the video clearly showing otherwise, Wilson wrote, “The video clearly shows that Michael Ancheta did not assault you.” Singh later sent Wilson an email with medical records dated the same day as the Harlowe protest showing Singh having a “concussion as well as a facial fracture, orbital floor fracture without entrapment, and a nasal fracture.” Wilson responded saying, “you were not concussed. You did not scream for help.”
Xodiak Rose Still In Custody
Rose’s $100,000 bail was posted by Jail Support LA but Rose has not been released.
Rose is still housed in Men’s Central Jail. Knock LA was able to track down one warrant in Bexar County, Texas, for Rose. The extraditions department in Bexar told Knock LA that Rose was wanted on a misdemeanor, and that it was not being pursued outside of the state.
CORRECTION 6/13/2023: An earlier version of this article stated that Rose was taken into custody on a warrant for a suspected robbery that occurred at a drag story hour on April 19. The drag story hour took place on April 15.