Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer has charged four people, including TikTok creators Bryce Hall and Blake Gray, for allegedly throwing a series of parties in the Hollywood Hills area in violation of public health restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We allege that these hosts have been incredibly irresponsible with a highly infection disease spreading,” Feuer said during a press conference. He announced that Hall and Gray were being charged with violating the Safer LA health order and the city’s party house ordinance. “These parties can be really out of control night clubs.”
The charges follow complaints from neighbors and mayors about the supposedly raucous parties. Hall and Gray are two of TikTok’s most popular creators, with 13.2 million and 5.9 million followers respectively.
Feuer alleges that on August 8th, LAPD officers came to Hall and Gray’s home in response to a complaint call from the Hollywood Hills. Officers issued a warning on the scene, telling Hall and Gray that parties are prohibited. The officers issued a citation under LA’s party house restrictions.
Then, on August 14th, officers returned to the residence after a call of alleged gun shots came in, Feuer said. Officers said they found “several hundred guests celebrating Mr. Hall’s 21st birthday.” No evidence of a gun was found, but Hall and Gray received a final warning of non-compliance. The Verge has reached out to Hall and Gray’s reps for comment.
Both Hall and Gray can face fines up to $2,000 dollars and one year in jail. Two other home owners, Jianwei Bai and David Marvisi, were also charged with allegedly violating party restrictions. Guests who attended these massive parties aren’t currently facing any charges or fines, but that could change in the future, Feuer said.
“I want to make a clear point about the allegations against these two party house hosts: if you have a combined 19 million followers on TikTok, and in the middle of a public health crisis, you should modeling great behavior and best practices rather than brazenly violating the law and posting videos about it as we allege happened here,” Feuer said.
Both the mayors of Los Angeles and Calabasas, a wealthy residential area where YouTube personality Jake Paul lives and threw a large party of his own, have condemned the gatherings. On August 19th, LA mayor Eric Garcetti had the city to shut off power at Hall and Gray’s home.
“Parties like these can quickly and easily spread the virus and put our communities at risk,” Garcetti tweeted.
Feuer told media it was unclear if “there have been any cases linked to these parties,” but added that because of the virus’ incubation period, “this might be around the time when individuals could become symptomatic if they were exposed to the disease.”
Close to 5.8 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the United States, and around 180,000 people have been left dead. The virus, which mainly affects the respiratory system, spreads through close contact between people. COVID-19 is frequently spreading among younger people who may carry the virus asymptomatically and not know they’ve contracted it. The Center for Disease Control strongly recommends avoiding large gatherings because of the high risk of transmission.
“The consequences of these large parties ripple throughout our entire community because the virus can quickly and easily spread,” a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of Public Health previously told The Verge. “We must all do our part to slow the spread of this virus so that we may continue on our recovery journey.”
Despite the pressure put on from various government officials, including California Governor Gavin Newsom who banned large gatherings in March, influencers have continued to throw parties. One of the more notorious events occurred during Hall’s 21st birthday party, where hundreds of guests reportedly showed up. Videos showed people inside the house drinking and hanging out in close contact with one another.
People within the creator community have called out the actions of influencers who continue to party. Tyler Oakley, Ethan and Hila Klein, and Philip DeFranco are among the more popular personalities speaking up and against the flagrant disrespect for new rules and guidelines meant to curb the spread of coronavirus. One YouTube creator, Davonna Finley, previously told The Verge they’re trying to do their part to name-and-shame influencers into stopping, but it’s not easy.
“The creators getting away with this are the biggest,” Finley said. “They’re dragons; but there aren’t too many dragon slayers. There’s nobody of their size willing to say something about what they’re doing.”
Now, with the new charges, it’s clear that Feuer and the city of Los Angeles will do whatever it takes to make the parties stop.