A Southern California mortgage broker who was photographed attacking a journalist at a Los Angeles anti-vaccination protest also bragged of “taking the Capitol” in a selfie video outside the federal building during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
A man several witnesses identified as Tony Moon was filmed Saturday at an anti-vaccine, anti-mask protest outside Los Angeles City Hall that was attended by a number of known members of the violent Proud Boys group.
One man was stabbed and two reporters were attacked as violent clashes erupted after the rally led by coronavirus conspiracy promoters. No one was arrested. Critics complained that Los Angeles police officers did little to quell the violence, even though the violence occurred less than a block from LAPD headquarters.
Moon was photographed and videotaped attacking journalist Tina-Desiree Berg. He slung what appeared to be a thermos or water bottle on a strap at Berg “like a weapon,” the journalist told HuffPost. He also ripped off her mask as he attacked her, Berg recounted.
“I thought, ’Whoa, this is way out of line.′ I was thinking how I could protect myself and my equipment,” Berg said. She didn’t report the attack to the police because “they were standing right there and did absolutely nothing.”
Here’s a video of the violence:
Berg said that Moon came for her after she was pointed out to him by one of his friends. She frequently covers such protests and is known to several Proud Boys.
A number of anti-vaxxers deliberately targeted journalists on Saturday. Frank Stoltze, a reporter for National Public Radio station KPCC, was accosted in the middle of an interview, then roughed up, his glasses ripped from his face and kicked. Stoltze said he had never experienced a similar situation in his 30 years working as a journalist. He filed a police complaint.
Journalist Andrew Kimmel said he was repeatedly pointed out by a man he knows to be a Proud Boy to other members of the extremist gang.
Moon was videotaped in other disturbing scenes Saturday, including one in which he screamed repeatedly: “Unmask them all!”
Moon talked up freedom and denounced “medical apartheid” in a speech earlier before the anti-vaxx crowd, but that apparently didn’t include the liberty to wear a mask (except those worn to hide identities). The mortgage broker indicated in the speech that he was “blue collar.”
It’s hardly Moon’s first right-wing clash. In January, he posted a video of himself at the nation’s Capitol during the insurrection. “So I’m on the steps. We’re taking the Capitol,” he said in a message and video from an archived Parler post. “Look at all the patriots!”
Moon was apparently not charged in the Capitol insurrection, according to a list of individuals indicted by the Department of Justice — though the investigation into the insurrection is continuing.
In L.A. on Saturday, Moon wore an orange arm band, akin to those worn by some of the most violent people at the rally. Others wore T-shirts reading “Fuck China” or “Fuck socialism,” and some had Nazi SS lightning symbols on their clothing.
Moon praised the violence of the rally on his “Roof Korean” Twitter account. The name refers to armed Korean Americans who took up posts on rooftops in Los Angeles’s Korean neighborhoods during the 1992 uprising sparked by the acquittal of four police officers who had been videotaped savagely beating Black motorist Rodney King.
A spokesperson for the LAPD told HuffPost he was unaware if any charges will be filed in the wake of the rally and was unaware of any connection between Moon and the U.S. Capitol insurrection. A spokesperson for the FBI in Los Angeles was also unaware of any connection between Moon and the Capitol riot.
Moon did not respond to requests for comment from HuffPost.
Berg said the violence at rallies and protests including Proud Boys has dangerously ramped up in the last few months and now includes stabbings with “shanks” or small knives that can be hidden within a hand.
“We’re having vicious prison-level brawls in our streets,” Berg said. “It’s insane.”
Berg said she and other journalists are discussing carrying some kind of protection at right-wing events. A fellow journalist at the Saturday rally told Berg that she now carries a Taser for protection.
“One of these days someone is going to get killed,” she told HuffPost. “These guys aren’t going away just because Donald Trump lost the election.”
The American Civil Liberties Union early this month wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for boosted protection for journalists and other observers to safeguard free speech in the U.S. in the face of increasing violence targeting reporters, including from law enforcement.