Police in Alameda County, CA are investigating several possible hate crimes after far-right extremists raided a local library’s Drag Queen Story Hour this past weekend, threatening patrons and harassing children.
Bay Area drag queen Panda Dulce had just begun her all-ages performance at the San Lorenzo Library on Saturday when a group of men entered the building, several wearing the black and yellow colors adopted by the white nationalist militia Proud Boys, as first reported by local affiliate KQED. One man wore a black shirt with an automatic rifle and the words “Kill Your Local Pedophile” printed in yellow. The group gathered behind the children in attendance, where they began shouting anti-trans slurs and called Dulce a “groomer” and child molester.
Before setting her Instagram to private, Dulce wrote in a post that the group “totally freaked out the kids. They got right in our faces. They jeered. They attempted to escalate to violence.” Even so, Dulce and library staff finished the event after police removed the group from the building, covering windows to make the children feel more secure.
“They want us to disappear. They want us to not exist so they don’t have to confront their own discomfort with the idea that there are people different from them in the world,” Dulce told CBS. “But guess what? There are people different from you in the world. And we’re going to stay here. And we’re going to continue doing what we’re doing. And we’re going to be visible about it.”
The library invasion came just hours after another anti-LGBTQ+ Proud Boys incident in Idaho, where 31 members of the group — identified by their patches and hats proclaiming such — were arrested and charged with conspiracy to riot while allegedly attempting to disrupt and intimidate attendees of a “Pride in the Park” event in Coeur d’Alene. Police say they received an anonymous tip about a U-Haul filled with “a little army” in a nearby parking lot; while the tipster’s identity isn’t known, other Proud Boys chapters have previously notified police of their own actions as a way to “soften [them] up” and “provide a little confusion and misinfo” prior to making contact.
Alameda County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Lt. Ray Kelly told KQED that his department was currently investigating the incident as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime, as well as a violation of California laws against harassment of children. But Kelly also said sheriff’s deputies will be posted at future storytime events “to deal with any disruptors,” which isn’t necessarily reassuring to queer and non-White patrons.
Both the Drag Queen Story Hour and Pride in the Park events were targeted last week by the Twitter account LibsofTikTok, operated by Brooklyn real estate agent Chaya Raichick, which compiles data about LGBTQ+ people on social media that groups like the Proud Boys can use to organize in-person harassment and intimidation campaigns.
We’ve known that the right wing’s anti-LGBTQ+ stochastic terrorism has been building to physical violence for a long time. Alongside the violence, several right-wing legislators have set the stage for anti-queer and anti-drag sentiment in recent weeks, with moves to ban taking kids to drag shows in Texas and the potential for felony charges in Florida if parents bring children to drag performances.
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