Dispute over masks erupts into violence in Manhattan Beach

Local news

Video captured a brawl over masks in Manhattan Beach last week that erupted after a couple poured hot coffee on men who’d been expressing their disapproval of masks.

The incident occurred Friday morning after a pair of friends, Matt Roy and James Hernandez, say they had been at a local coffee shop, discussing how they feel about people wearing masks. Roy and Hernandez say they are anti-mask.

“This couple overheard us, and they took offense to it,” Roy said. “It really triggered them.”

The friends say they walked a couple blocks away and found a spot on a bench where they could consume the beverages and food they’d picked up. That’s when they say a couple who overheard their earlier conversation approached them.

“They were asking us to put our masks on,” Hernandez said. “We just found that ridiculous, because we’re eating burritos and drinking coffee. We’re outdoors. So we said, ‘No.’”

The confrontation was captured on Hernandez’s body camera — something he says he always wears because he is often assaulted for wearing a Trump hat.

The footage shows Roy run after a man and woman who apparently splattered hot coffee on them. A tussle ensues, during which Roy’s shirt is ripped and the man’s nose is bloodied.

“That was dumb,” Hernandez tells the woman. “You shouldn’t have thrown the drink in his face.”

“I don’t give a f—,” she replies.

Roy then tells her, “You might have COVID now, you’ve got to go to a doctor.”

After the friends reiterate they think it was wrong of the woman to pour her coffee on them, she says, “I hope that someone saw that, because I would do it 10 times over.”

The couple then called the police, according to Hernandez and Roy.

Manhattan Beach police said both sides declined to press charges and apologized to each other.

Last month, Manhattan Beach authorized a fine of up to $350 for people not wearing masks in public, and police said they planned to enforce the order. But exceptions to the rules include that people don’t need a face covering if they’re actively eating or drinking.

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