Ohio drag queen storytime canceled amid armed protests by far-right groups

A drag story time event in Ohio was canceled Saturday after members of far-right groups gathered near the First Columbus Unitarian Universalist Church, where the reading was scheduled.

The “Holi-Drag Storytime”, which was organized by Red Oak Community School, was scheduled to feature three drag queens reading to children of all ages and performing “a few Christmas numbers”.

According to The Associated Press50-70 members of the Ohio chapters of the proud boys and the patriot front they stood along the paths leading to the church, promoting weapons, tactical gear and face masks that concealed their identities. protesters sung “life, liberty, victory” and “take back America”, among other slogans, and some are viewed giving a Nazi salute, according to footage recorded by Brendan Gutenschwager.

The groups had previously posted their plans to protest the event on the Telegram messaging app.

Cheryl Ryan, principal of the school in Red Oak, delivered a tearful statement from the stage where the event was supposed to have taken place. Ryan said the cancellation came about because of a disagreement “about how this community could be better protected.”

“I spent a week calling our police department and leaving voicemails about the reports we had seen,” Ryan said. “After a week, they told me we could hire a special duty officer, who may or may not show up because he’s understaffed.”

Holi-drag Storytime, DECEMBER 3, 2022 AT 10 AM – 11:30 AM by
First UU Church Columbus Ohio in

“In the end, our artists felt unsafe without the presence of the police, while our [community] The security team felt unsafe with the police presence,” Ryan said, explaining that even with continued efforts by the community to ensure adequate protection for the event, they were unable to reach an agreement with local police.

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In a statement sent to Facebookthe Columbus Police Department called Ryan’s statement “incorrect” and wrote that they had had several face-to-face meetings with church and school organizers to devise a safety plan.

“CPD rallied resources from various units to make sure we were present, including officers from our dialogue team and bike patrol, the statement read. “Although the event was cancelled, we still had staff and officers in the area to make sure that all parties were safe.”

Statement on the cancellation of the Holi-Drag Storytime event

published by Colon Police Division in Saturday, December 3, 2022

“The Columbus Division of Police protects all residents of the city equally. We have had several meetings with the LGBTQ community and continue to work together in partnership to ensure they feel supported and protected at all of their events,” the post continued. .

According to Ryan, the school “sold almost 1,000 tickets” for the “Holi-Drag,” which had raised more than $5,000 for a local LGBTQ charity.

A small group of counter-protesters also attended the event and held up rainbow and transgender flags to show their support, according to more video from Gutenschwager.

LGBTQ organizations in central Ohio had called on counter-protesters to refrain from any action before the event. According to the Columbus LGBTQ outlet, The flame of the horse chestnutA coalition of groups issued a statement saying that “this situation is potentially volatile and dangerous and the safety of children, families, artists and our community are of the utmost importance and our actions must be in the service of their protection.”

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The Proud Boys is a far-right organization, and the FBI has referred to them as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism,” according to a report. leaked internal document. Its founder, Enrique Tarrio, has been accused of seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.