A Gardena man has been charged with a weapons offense after prosecutors say he dressed up as a member of the National Guard and displayed a rifle near a protest at City Hall that came at the height of tensions between police and demonstrators in early June.
Gregory Wong, 31, faces up to three years in prison if convicted of one felony count of possession of an assault weapon , according to a news release issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Wong was armed with an ARP5 rifle and a handgun while wearing fatigues when he was confronted by real members of the Guard on June 2. The Guardsmen confronted him after noticing incorrect decals on his uniform, police said.
Authorities have not said why Wong was wearing the uniform or what his intentions were. Wong is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office did not know if he had retained an attorney.
Wong’s actions took place as thousands took to the streets of Southern California to call for criminal justice reform and denounce police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police.
Some of the demonstrations downtown and in West L.A. veered into violence and property damage, leading to tense standoffs and scenes of cars being burned. The National Guard was deployed to quiet the unrest and city and county officials instituted curfew orders, leading the LAPD to arrest thousands of people.
A number of troubling videos showing police swinging batons wildly at peaceful protesters, or in one case, running over a woman during a downtown protest, also led many to question the LAPD’s handling of the demonstrations that week.