As June marks the celebration of Pride, not all Americans are open to celebrating diversity and acceptance. For the second time this weekend, an LGBTQ+ event was targeted by men involved with a hate group, authorities said. In a Facebook post Sunday, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in California said it opened a hate crime investigation into an incident that occurred on Saturday at the San Lorenzo Library.
According to the office, at least five men, who are allegedly members of the Proud Boys, barged into an edition of "Drag Queen Story Hour.” Police officials noted the men wore clothes with logos belonging to the white nationalist hate group. According to NBC News, they even shouted "homophobic and transphobic slurs at the event organizer," a statement from sheriff's Lt. Ray Kelly said.
"The men were described as extremely aggressive with a threatening, violent demeanor causing people to fear for their safety," Kelly said.
Kelly added that deputies de-escalated the situation before anyone was hurt, but no arrests were made at the scene. He noted that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is not only investigating the incident as a hate crime but is also investigating “the annoying and harassing of children.”
The event was hosted by Kyle Chu, a drag queen known professionally as Panda Dulce. Dulce shared what happened during the incident on their Instagram page, noting that the disruption “totally freaked out all of the kids” and the group “attempted to escalate to violence.”
“I eventually got out. I’m safe. I’ll be fine,” Dulce wrote. “Drag queen story hours have always seen protestors. And I’ve always received hate mail. But today hit different.”
The county librarian shared a similar recollection and noted how afraid the children were.
“It was all in front of the children, and it frightened them,” county librarian Cindy Chadwick told KTVU. “We had parents and children there who wanted to come to this event and chose to be there. And to have people come in and try to intimidate those folks and us from trying to do a program like this was just beyond the pale for me.”
According to BuzzFeed News, Dulce was able to finish the story but not until after police escorted the men out.
“These kids deserve programming and role models that is accurately reflective of our diverse world,” Dulce told BuzzFeed News. “Not a regurgitated monolith authored by xenophobes because they’re too cowardly to accept reality."
The reading was part of “Drag Queen Story Hour,” an event created in San Francisco in 2015. While the event in San Lorenzo was open to the public, it encouraged children to be present, due to the reading material. After the event was announced, some right-wing Twitter accounts including LibsofTikTok shared it as as part of a thread focusing on similar events around the country. While the original tweet was deleted by Twitter due to violations of the site’s rules, other tweets about the event were not.
Despite the weekend’s disturbance, the library stood strong and said it will continue hosting Pride events.
“Libraries are open to all and are places that foster inclusion of all our communities. Attempts to intimidate and silence others are not tolerated in libraries,” the library said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “We are grateful to Panda Dulce for showing bravery and resilience and finishing the Storytime event.”
"They were successful in scaring us, but they weren't successful in their ultimate goal which is to make us go away because of their own discomfort with the diversity of our world. They failed in that," Dulce said, according to ABC News.
The incident occurred on the same day 31 members of the white nationalist Patriot Front group were arrested in Idaho on suspicion of planning to start a riot at a Pride event in Idaho.
"We will make sure any future events at the library are safe against hate speech and threats of violence," Kelly told KQED. "As we celebrate Pride Month, we will be swift in our response to any incidents where there are threats to harm members of this community."