The largest and most troubling of these occurred in Columbus, where a school operated by the First Unitarian Universalist Church had planned to hold a “Holi-drag” storytelling event on Saturday. An Ohio-based group of Proud Boys Announced who planned to show up to protest. The post of him warned: “he’s going to be wild!”
Saturday morning, school officials announced were canceling the planned 10 a.m. event, claiming Columbus police officers “offered nothing” to provide security, describing their response to their concerns as just a “casual and distant acknowledgment” of the event.
“I spent a week calling our police department and leaving voicemails about the reports we had seen,” Cheryl Ryan, an administrator at Red Oak Community School, said in a YouTube video posted Saturday. “After a week, they told me we could hire a special duty officer, who may or may not show up because he’s understaffed.”
However, the cancellation did not affect the far-right extremists who marched to protest in front of the church: not only the Proud Boys, but also masked neo-fascist Patriot Front protesters, armed Oath Keepers and other militiamen, and neo-Nazis. White. Lives Matter activists.
The various factions marched toward the church site from different directions, and for the most part seemed to remain grouped within their respective organizations once they lined the street in downtown Columbus in front of which they protested. They were numbered between 70 and 80.
Dozens of counter-protesters showed up on the church campus with Pride flags but kept their distance. The Proud Boys at one point were seen dancing to the Village People hit “YMCA,” and some of the militiamen seemed eager to brandish their semi-automatic rifles, but for the most part the two factions spent the day just yelling at each other in West Weisheimer Road in the Clintonville neighborhood where the church and school are located.
Among the bad actors who performed with the Proud Boys was American Guard Founder Brien Jamesa former skinhead organizer who now specializes in in far-right street thuggery. Daryle Lamont Jenkins observed the presence of a white lives matter cluster.
colon police they were recorded chatting amicably with the protesters, but told the people recording them that they were just trying to keep things balanced. Eventually, the protests died down and the men went home.
The Columbus Division of Police and city officials insisted they had been in regular communication with organizers for weeks, ever since they learned of the event. The story time event was scheduled to feature local drag performers reading to the children and performing Christmas numbers.
In Florida, a group of neo-Nazis wearing masks and swastika-emblazoned banners turned out to protest outside a Lakeland event featuring drag performers on Saturday. On the same day in Fort Lauderdale, a collection of Proud Boys and anti-Semitic members of the Goyim Defense League showed up to add an element of menace to an anti-LGBTQ “Protect the Children” rally.
lakeland protesters, almost all masked, held Hitler salutes and marched outside the Lakeland headquarters, some of them shouting: “Heil Hitler!” The men wore black pants and red shirts, and carried a banner that proclaimed: “Drag queens are pedophiles with AIDS.” They also displayed a sign equating Judaism with communism, as well as a Christian nationalist banner with a Crusader-style red cross.
the masked The Nazis scared the children. and their families inside the event. They remained sheltered in place until the police arrived.
“The moment I was informed, we immediately took action on how to keep everyone safe,” event organizer Jason DeShazo wrote. “The Lakeland Police Department showed up quickly to ensure the safety of our venue. They had several officers conspicuously patrolling the perimeter, making sure our gates were closed and secured. The protesters, while holding Nazi flags, yelled insults at both adults and children. while recording videos, holding offensive signs, and projecting inappropriate content onto the side of the building while hiding their faces. The police did everything they could and kept them away from our community.”
DeShazo added: “This is one example of how the climate we find ourselves in today has pushed extremists and given them a voice. The Rose Dynasty Foundation will continue to provide a safe space for all people – it’s a shame this is the kinds of things we have to worry about.”
The Fort Lauderdale rally was organized by the right-wing Gays Against Groomers (whose spokesperson recently told Tucker Carlson that more mass murder was likely to continue as long as the LGBTQ community was “grooming” children) and groups like “Moms for Liberty Miami” and “Florida Fathers for Freedom.” This protest, which was not in response to a specific LGBTQ+ event, was widely promoted on social media by right-wing outlets like Breitbart and One America News Network.
A large contingent of counter-protesters, estimated to significantly outnumber the right-wing crowd, appeared across the street.
In New York, a smaller group of neo-Nazis led by a notorious ex-Proud Boy tried to make a scene at Lincoln Center, which was also hosting a draq-queen storytelling event, and met even stiffer resistance.
The group was headed by notorious New York neo-Nazi Jovanni Valle, aka Jovi Val, a man best known for his self-martyrdom when he was struck with a bottle while wearing a MAGA hat inside a Lower East Side bar. , and also for giving Nazi salutes with a fascist banner outside the Jewish Museum. The group also included members of the Goyim Defense League, and they carried banners.
At least a dozen counter-protesters they were there to meet them outside the venue and unceremoniously chased them away by fighting them off. the New York Post (who neglected to mention the ideological background of the would-be disruptors) reported that they were chased away by people wielding eggs and bricks before they could enter the venue. They also claimed they were robbed.
The ADL noted Two other protests in the New York area that met with significant resistance:
- Protesters also addressed a drag queen storytelling event at the Staten Island Children’s Museum in Snug Harbor. Scott LoBaido, described by a local media outlet as a “controversial artist/activist,” led some 60 protesters, including at least three Proud Boys, who shouted anti-LGBTQ+ remarks and accused the event organizers of child abuse. Witnesses describe the protesters as lacking in cohesion, with anti-vaccine conspirators also on the scene.
- On December 4, 2022, approximately 10 protesters showed up outside a drag queen story hour at the Jewish Community Center in Oceanside, New York, accusing the event’s participants of “grooming” children. According to social media accounts, they were greeted by 15 counter-protesters who were defending story time.
“The objectives are clear”, tweeted author Andy Campbell: “Canceling community events by mobilizing violent and bigoted gangs and ultimately flooding the narrative with ‘groomers’ until all drag/LGBTQ is accepted as inherently threatening.”
“The world is becoming increasingly unsafe for the LGBTQ community,” Cheryl Ryan of Red Oak Community School told NBC News. “We have to do better.”