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A “Teen Pride” event tomorrow at a public library in Renton, WA is being targeted by anti-LGBTQ+ activists. More demonstrations against a library in the same system are planned for next week.
Elizabeth Johnston, a far-right Christian media personality who brands herself as “The Activist Mommy,” went on a transphobic rant about the event Thursday on her Facebook, calling on her 600,000 plus followers to bombard the Renton’s library with phone calls demanding they cancel the event. At around 2pm PST on Thursday, Johnston said the phone lines were “jammed” and told her followers to start emailing the library’s board of trustees instead.
Antifascists at Emerald City Antifa shared a message from a Renton library employee who’d received calls yesterday.
“I can tell you that we’re experiencing a barrage of hateful phone calls,” the library employee said, adding “It’s been very stressful for me as a queer person.”
Johnston’s post included talking points from SPLC-designated anti-LGBT hate group Mass Resistance. Arthur Schaper, one of the group’s leaders based out of Southern California, recently gained attention for disrupting “Drag Queen Story Time” events at libraries around the country, claiming they were part of a long-running anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theory that says LGBTQ+ members are trying to indoctrinate and molest young people. A Houston far-right radio host was arrested after he brought a gun into a library in February this year, claiming “We have a bunch of homosexuals who are molesting children.” He had previously harassed the library because of the Drag Queen Story Time events Mass Resistance was whipping up controversy over.
In response to possible demonstrations against the Teen Pride event, Plateupians for Peace, a local activist group, is organizing a support demonstration to shield young attendees of the LGBTQ+ youth event from bigoted protestors.
“We need your help showing support against these protestors and creating a safe environment for our LGBTQ+ teens to attend this event. We need people there from 12:30-1:30 and from 6:30-7:30, when kiddos [are] arriving and leaving,” the description for the event reads.
At around 2PM today, Johnston reposted the call to action, telling people to keep bombarding the Library’s phones.
But this isn’t the last Renton’s library system will hear from anti-LGBTQ+ activists this month. Next week on the 27th, Mass Resistance and Patriots of Washington, a group that includes Zachary Staggs and other members of the Proud Boys, will protest a Drag Queen Story Time event there.
Emerald City Antifa activists are organizing counter-efforts to the demonstration, including offering support and resources to the Drag Queens performing that day.
The library employee who messaged Emerald City Antifa said that “[p]eaceful counterprotestors would be welcome.”
The Puget Sound Anarchists collective also put out a call to action to defend the Seattle Trans Pride Parade on the weekend of the 28th this month. The Proud Boys and an affiliated far-right livestreaming group called Operation Cold Front are expected to show up.
These protests come amidst escalating demonstrations and violence against LGBTQ+ people during this year’s Pride Month.
Locally, an art display by Renton’s United Christian Church was vandalized and then bombed. The display was a series of rainbow-painted doors bearing the message “God’s doors are open to all.” The FBI is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. The church is planning a prayer vigil in response tonight at 6:30pm.
In Seattle earlier this month, an AIDS memorial installation was torn down.
On Monday, there was a demonstration against a Drag Queen Story Time event on Des Moines, Washington.
As LCRW previously reported, a trans activist was cited with a hate crime by California Highway Patrol after he confronted a hate preacher at the Capitol Building during Sacramento Pride weekend. During that confrontation, he was threatened by an attendee with a knife.
Other high-profile anti-LGBTQ+ incidents dominated the news cycle this month across the country. The National Socialist Movement, a direct descendant of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party, disrupted Detriot’s Motor City Pride Parade earlier this month, flying flags with swastikas. They had full protection from police officers, who were wearing rainbow flag badges.
Additionally, Right-wing provocateur Steven Crowder intensified his years-long homophobic harassment campaign against journalist Carlos Maza, emboldened by Youtube’s failure to address the situation.
One of the most viral stories has to do with Resist Marxism’s plans for a “Straight Pride Parade.” Resist Marxism is a Boston-based neo-Nazi-adjacent protest group founded by Kyle Chapman, the far-right e-celebrity famously nicknamed “Based Stickman” after he broke a closet pole over an antifascist brawler’s head during a riot in Berkeley. The “Straight Pride” event is set to go forward August 31st.