Clergy Slam Newsom for Targeting Churches as Dodgers Fans Run Wild

State authorities silent on massive LA crowds celebrating World Series victory

Dodgers fans celebrate in Los Angeles, Oct. 27, 2020 / Getty Images
October 30, 2020

California clergy challenging state coronavirus restrictions ripped Democratic leaders for targeting churches as large crowds gathered in the streets after the Dodgers' World Series championship.

"How dare Los Angeles County food and garbage inspectors issue $1,000 fines to Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church because the parish let 11 women into their spacious sanctuary to pray, while county officials turn a blind eye to revelry in the streets, with massive crowds shouting and chanting in close proximity over a period of hours," Paul Jonna, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Thousands rioted and looted in Los Angeles after the Dodgers' World Series victory on Tuesday. Despite multiple arrests and the condemnation of the Los Angeles Police Department, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) tweeted a congratulatory note to the Dodgers without mentioning the violent crowds.

Newsom's office declined to comment on the size of the crowd.

Los Angeles County said mass celebrations have been linked to the spread of the virus.*

"There have been too many instances of people unknowingly spreading the virus at these gatherings, which, sadly, has led to new infections, serious illness and death," a county spokesman said in an email. The county stood by worship restrictions, saying the "vast majority of the County’s religious institutions" comply with its guidelines.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti (D.) warned about the crowd size on Twitter. "As we celebrate this incredible @Dodgers victory tonight, we need to remember that COVID-19 is still here and still dangerous," he wrote. "Please don't host or attend victory parties, or gather in large groups to celebrate. Let's keep L.A. safe."

The massive celebrations, as well as Black Lives Matter protests that have drawn tens of thousands, came even as Los Angeles County fined churches that have taken the state government to court. Father Trevor Burfitt, a priest who is also challenging Newsom's restrictions, said state leaders are demonstrating "biased and inequitable treatment" toward religious institutions in the state.

"Governor Newsom's endless shutdowns and discriminatory edicts are interfering in the worship by God's people, something that was expressly forbidden in the foundational documents of this nation and is echoed in the constitutions of states across the country," Burfitt said.

Massive crowds also gathered in the streets after the Lakers won the NBA championship in October. The gathering resulted in more than 70 arrests and violent clashes with police officers. Afterward, Newsom described the gathering as a "point of obvious concern as it relates to the transmission of the virus." "We just ask people to be cautious, to be mindful, at the same time they celebrate this historic victory," he said.

Newsom told Politico that California is preparing for civil unrest on Election Day.

"As it relates to making sure people are safe, making sure not only the process of voting is a safe and healthy one, but keeping people safe after the election for whatever may occur, the answer is yes, we are always gaming out different scenarios and making sure that we are prepared," he said.

*Update: This Piece has been updated with comment from Los Angeles County