Neo-Nazis and white supremacists join right-wing protest against drag queen story event
Members of far-right extremist groups joined with right-wing Christians and other conservatives in a park in Ohio to disrupt a drag queen story event.
Parents and children were shielded by rainbow umbrellas as they attempted to peacefully attend the Rock-n-Roll Humanist Drag Queen Story Hour, billed as “an epic celebration of life and love and diversity and hope”.
Hundreds of protesters, including those affiliated with the Proud Boys, Patriot Front, White Lives Matter of Ohio, 111 Percenters and neo-Nazi group Blood Tribe, alongside anti-drag conservatives, clashed with LGBTQ+ activists in Wadsworth Memorial Park, outside Akron on Saturday (11 March).
Disturbing footage posted to Twitter by filmmaker Ford Fischer shows masked neo-Nazis waving swastika flags, throwing Nazi salutes and shouting “sieg heil” and “heil Hitler”.
They were also filmed making a hateful call-and-response chant of “Weimar conditions, Weimar solutions”.
Warning – videos contain hate speech and violence.
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The Proud Boys is an exclusively all-male neo-fascist group, designated as a terrorist organisation in Canada and New Zealand, and known for its involvement in the January 6 Capitol riots.
Racist, homophobic and sexual slurs were hurled by the extremist groups, while the Parasol Patrol – an organisation that seeks to peacefully shield children and their parents from hateful speech and actions of discriminatory protesters by using rainbow-coloured umbrellas and ear defenders for kids – escorted families safely inside the venue.
Swastika flags, Nazi salutes and chants
Extremists brandished signs and banners reading “White Lives Matter” and “Victory or Death”. Advocate reported that others held placards with the slogan “Mothers against grooming” – a reference to the entirely false claim that LGBTQ+ people are a threat to children.
An anti-drag protester in a full chainmail crusader costume appeared to be temporarily blinded by mace, while another far-right extremist pointed at a Black supporter of the drag event and shouted: “There’s a n****r f****t!”
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, two people were arrested and charged with misdemeanour disorderly conduct after use of pepper spray, violently deploying a flagpole as a weapon and a protester pointing what appeared to be a gun at the crowd.
Wadsworth police later confirmed that the weapon was designed to shoot pepper spray, not bullets.
Drag queen Rose read a story about treating others with respect
The Ohio drag event proceeded, despite the vitriol of far-right protesters outside. Fifteen children listened to a story from drag queen Rose about treating others how they would want to be treated.
Rose read a book called “Elle the Humanist”, written by nine-year-old Elle Harris and her father, to answer commonly-asked questions about humanism.
They then enjoyed some dancing and singing – and played air guitars together.
Sadly, although the event was granted a permit, the president of Wadsworth City Council indicated that he will seek to legislate against allowing children to attend drag entertainment.
This comes against a backdrop of a moral panic around family-friend drag performances, with conservatives claiming, without justification, that they are sexually inappropriate.
Drag performers are under attack by Republican lawmakers across the United States, with Tennessee becoming the first state to ban drag in public where children can witness it. Similar proposals have been launched in more than a dozen US states, including in Texas where a newly-launched bill would allow minors to sue drag queens and promotors.
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