LOS ANGELES - A Northern California Christian worship musician is scheduled to hold a big concert on Skid Row Wednesday night, and local leaders fear it will become a superspreader event.
The event is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at 5th Street and Town Avenue. It's part of Sean Feucht's series called "Let Us Worship." Feucht has held concerts across the nation for months with hundreds of people who do not practice social distancing or wear masks.
"We see what he's done across the country. We see that he actually had a concert in New Orleans and the New Orleans mayor is regretful that they allowed him to come in and have this concert with thousands of folks," said Pete White, the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network.
Feucht is promoting the event as a homeless outreach opportunity, but White believes it's a dangerous publicity stunt.
"What we're saying is no way is this Godly to bring this large-scale event into downtown Skid Row, which is already -- pre-pandemic -- a very vulnerable community when we talk about pre-existing health conditions. Skid Row was here before the pandemic but Sean was not. Do not take this as an opportunity and many people talk about this being a religious opportunity, but I'm very clear this is also a political opportunity," said White.
White is planning a car blockade to prevent the event from happening and to protect people from a further spread of COVID-19 downtown. White said the blockade will be primarily from their cars so they don't contribute to the superspreading event.
"When we think about super spreading, we're thinking about the impact on Skid Row, but additionally the impact on all the areas that border Skid Row. We're not talking about First Amendment expression right now. We're talking about a public health crisis," said White.
White said he is also concerned the city is not stepping in to shut down the concert.
"What he's [Feucht] talking about doing in Skid Row is problematic, but what's even more problematic is the silence from city leadership. I've heard not a peep from Mayor [Eric] Garcetti. I've heard not a peep from Kevin de Leon who represents the 14th district. I haven't heard anything from the County Board of Supervisors. When we're in the midst of a public health crisis, there needs to be more. There needs to be more assurances to Angelenos that city leadership is going to do everything in their power to curtail this pandemic," said White.
Reverend Andy Bales, the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, said Skid Row is being heavily impacted by the current surge.
"It's been the battle of our lives and I believe the toughest time in the history of Union Rescue Mission. We have many cases on Skid Row, hot spots on San Julian, hot spots on San Pedro, every mission has been hit. We are testing weekly trying to keep everybody safe," said Rev. Bales.
Rev. Bales said he contacted city officials about the event and also reached out to his team with concerns.
"I sent out a letter to my team, an email pleading with them that no matter how spectacular or wonderful or even spiritual the public event might be, please practice caution, please look out for yourself, please look out for your teammates, please look out for your family. I'm most concerned about the divided presentation of the church to the world and I'm also very concerned about the health on Skid Row," he said.
Bales is also hoping the city will help.
"I'm hoping the City will bring me some masks that I can go out and hand out on the streets before the event tonight," said Rev. Bales.
Rev. Bales said his recent surgery was canceled because of the surge in cases.
"My surgery was canceled because the hospital has no beds for anything else but COVID and they're out of beds and ambulances are waiting seven hours and being turned away and many hospitals are not accepting patients and yet we're going to have a no mask protest on our streets?" said Bales.
Feucht is planning another event at Echo Park from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, December 31.
Los Angeles County leader Hilda Solis issued the following statement regarding the planned concert:
"I am aware and highly concerned of the planned event and have asked our Department of Public Health to look into this matter," said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. "Since this is in the jurisdiction of the City of Los Angeles, I’ve also referred the matter to the City Attorney’s office."
FOX 11 reached out to Feucht for comment on several platforms but did not receive a response.
Alex Comisar, the Deputy Communications Director for Mayor Eric Garcetti's Office sent this statement regarding the event:
"This is the most dangerous moment of the pandemic, and Mayor Garcetti strongly urges everyone to stay at home whenever possible. The Mayor implores anyone going out in public to wear a mask, keep physical distance and follow the public health guidance."