Kids’ drag show canceled amid right-wing protests (VIDEOS)
A ‘Drag Storytime’ event in Columbus, Ohio was canceled on Saturday as dozens of conservative protesters marched outside. Organizers of the controversial show say that internal arguments, and not the presence of armed demonstrators, led to the cancelation.
Held by Red Oak Community School, an elementary school that incorporates “social justice learning” into its curriculum, the ‘Holi-Drag Storytime’ event was billed as an “all ages” performance in which local drag queens would read stories and “normalize and celebrate the beautiful diversity of the gender spectrum,” the Associated Press reported.
Protests had been planned since the show was first announced last month, and on Saturday, several dozen members of the Proud Boys, Patriot Front, and other conservative organizations marched to the Unitarian church where it was due to take place.
Independent journalist Brendan Gutenschwager posted video footage of the protesters, some of whom held signs calling the organizers of the show “groomers.” Others came dressed in military fatigues and carrying rifles.
Several armed individuals show up at the protest across from the church. They did not say any specific group affiliation, Columbus Police came over to speak with them briefly and request safe firearm handling pic.twitter.com/BEZqCutn0F— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) December 3, 2022
Patriot Front, White Lives Matter Ohio, an unnamed armed group in camo, Proud Boys, pro-LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter counter-protesters all gathered along the sides of North High Street in Columbus pic.twitter.com/955T2rwBCD— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) December 3, 2022
As the masked Patriot Front contingent arrived on the scene, members of the Proud Boys chanted “feds,” a reference to the belief in some right-wing circles that Patriot Front is an entrapment operation run by the federal government. Notably, former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was himself a police informant for several years.
Chants of “Feds!” from the Proud Boys as Patriot Front marches past them outside the church pic.twitter.com/Q1ck976Yut— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) December 3, 2022
A number of left-wing counter-protesters showed up at the church, some of whom were also armed. No clashes between the groups were reported.
While the show was called off as the conservative demonstrators arrived, organizers say the protesters had nothing to do with the decision. Instead, disagreements about security led to the cancelation.
“In the end our performers felt unsafe without a police presence while our safety team felt unsafe with a police presence,” school manager Cheryl Ryan told AP. “So it turns out our biggest problem wasn’t the Proud Boys after all.”