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

A drag storytime event in Ohio was canceled Saturday after members of far-right groups gathered near the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus, where readings were to take place.

The “Holi-Drag Storytime” hosted by Red Oak Community School featured three drag queens set to read to children of the age group and perform “some holiday numbers”.

According to The Associated Press, 50–70 members of the Ohio chapter of the Proud Boys and Patriot Front lined the streets leading up to the church, carrying guns, tactical gear and face masks that obscured their identities. the protesters Speak “Life, Liberty, Victory” and “Reclaim America,” among other slogans, are a few more. seen Giving the Nazi salute, according to footage recorded by Brendan Guttenschwegger.

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

Red Oak School Manager Cheryl Ryan made a tearful statement from the stage where the event was to take place. Ryan said the cancellation was due to disagreements over “how this community can best be protected.”

“I spent a week calling our police department and leaving voicemails about the reports we had seen,” Ryan said. “After a week, I was told that we could hire a special duty officer, who may or may not show up due to being short staffed.”

Holly-Drag Storytime, December 3rd, 2022 10 AM – 11:30 AM By
First UU Church Columbus Ohio on Youtube

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

In a statement posted to Facebook, the Columbus Police Department called Ryan’s statement “false”, writing that he had held face-to-face meetings with organizers of both the church and the school to draw up a safety plan.

“CPD pulled together resources from multiple units to make sure we were present, including officers from our bike patrol and dialogue team.” The parties were safe.”

Statement Regarding Cancellation of the Holly-Drag Storytime Event

Posted by Columbus Division of Police on Saturday, December 3rd, 2022

“The Columbus Division of Police protects all residents of the City equally. We have held numerous meetings with the LGBTQ community and continue to work together in partnership to ensure that they are supported and protected in all of our programs Feel,” the post continued.

According to Ryan, the school “sold about 1,000 tickets” for “Holy-Drag”, which raised over $5,000 for a local LGBTQ charity.

A small group of counter-demonstrators also attended the event, carrying rainbow and transgender flags to show their support, according to more. Video From Gutenschwegger.

LGBTQ organizations in central Ohio had asked the defendants to desist from any action prior to the incident. According to Columbus LGBTQ outlet, The Bucky Flame, a coalition of groups released a statement saying, “This situation is potentially volatile and dangerous and the safety of children, families, artists and our community is paramount and our actions must In service to their safety.”

The Proud Boys is a far-right organization, and has been referred to by the FBI as an “extremist group with white nationalism” according to a leaked internal document. Their founder, Enrique Tarrio, has been accused of seditious conspiracy Regarding the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

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