On Monday this week, The 27th District Virginia Taylor Club, a Tacoma-area Republican Party org, hosted an anti-trans speaker who previously harassed a children’s event along with armed militia members.
The talk, titled “Transgenderism and Our Children,” was part of their regular monthly social hour at Knapp’s Restaurant. The speaker, Lynn Meagher, is a member of Mass Resistance, an SPLC-designated anti-LGBT hate group. She calls being trans a “cult” and helped found an anti-trans-youth group called A.S.K. Moms.
“We don’t think it’s hateful to have a discussion about whether life altering medical treatments should be offered to children,” Martin Merterns, president of the Republican club, told the Tacoma News Tribune.
Meagher previously showed up to a trans youth event in Renton on June 23rd. At that event, she and another Mass Resistance member were escorted out of the event by police after refusing to leave. They took pictures of the sign-up sheets and refused to give the officers’ their names. Other Mass Resistance members who were not escorted out filmed inside a bathroom.
A week later, Meagher joined the ranks of armed III% militia members and Proud Boys in protesting a Drag Queen Story Hour event in a Des Moines, WA library. The Proud Boys and III% members were apparently recruited by Mass Resistance as security. Counter-protestors who showed up to oppose Mass Resistance and their affiliates later told me they received death threats from militia members during the event. One of the Proud Boys in attendance, Sean-Michael David Scott, openly endorses James Mason’s Seige, the neo-Nazi book advocating for lone wolf acts of terrorism.
Antifascist and local LGBTQ+ activists acted with a day’s notice to have the event shut down.
“We felt that this speaker was an active threat to our community and believe it was necessary to try to get them de-platformed,” the University of Puget Sound (UPS) Antifa collective said in a report-back published on It’s Going Down.
UPS Antifa started a call-in campaign and flyered the area around Knapp’s the night before.
“This is an excuse to promote hatred and normalize violence against trans people. This is a mockery of real activism and I hope you will do the right thing and cancel this event,” part of the suggested script for the UPS Antifa’s call-in campaign read. “If this event is not canceled we will be forced to boycott your restaurant and show up in protest of this event.”
Knapp’s management told the News Tribune it doesn’t monitor what the Republican club does with the event space, as they had regularly rented it from the restaurant for several years.
“The fallout online led to people making threats against the restaurant, which is kind of terrifying,” Stephanie Anderson, the restaurant coordinator for Knapp’s parent company told the News Tribune. She claimed there were arson threats.
Meagher went to Knapp’s to make her case for continuing the event on Monday. Local LGBTQ+ activist Leah Smillie, planning to meet with the restaurant’s staff herself, happened to walk in during the meeting (archived).
“The actual staff seemed devastated and distraught that this was even potentially in their place of employment to begin with,” Smillie said in her Facebook post about the event. “Corporate would not let any employees be recorded due to fears for their safety and retribution from those who might be angry at the cancellation.”
Then, a couple of hours later, they found out the event was moved to a Round Table Pizza. “With an hour to spare,” UPS Antifa said, they had activists call in and show up in person to protest.
“When several members of our collective and around 5 other non-affiliated activists got to the restaurant at 6:15, there was no sign of the 27th District Republicans. We thought that we had lost them, until one activist went into the pizza place to ask around,” UPS Antifa wrote in their report-back. One of the Republican club members, not knowing who the activist was, tipped him off that the was meeting at a restaurant called Joseppi’s.
The Republican club member also told the activist to be careful because there’s “leftists afoot.”
“We didn’t know this was what was going on until they were eating and protesters showed up,” Mary Bertrand, Joesippi’s general manager told a commenter who complained about the anti-trans meeting in a review on the restaurant’s Facebook.
“But they let them stay and have their meeting even after they knew what was going on. They stated they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone; once they found out what was happening, why didn’t they ask them to leave?” the commenter said.
Bertrand replied that the Republican club was asked to leave “when they were done eating.”
UPS Antifa and other activists said they talked to one of the owners, not specifying who, but couldn’t convince him to kick the Republican club out. So they protested outside.
“The 27th District Republicans and anti-trans “activists” could see us through the window, waving trans flags and signs, and singing copyrighted music so that any recordings of their event would be taken down if they were posted online,” UPS Antifa wrote.
UPS Antifa said “one of the owners” called the cops on them initially, but later came out to apologize to them. They said after he’d heard “what Lynn Meagher was saying, the owner came around to some degree.”
The owner also told them that one of the Republican club attendees offered to call in “private armed security.” UPS Antifa suspects this was an “alt-right militia.” As previously stated, Meagher’s group Mass Resistance has used Proud Boys and III% members as armed security.
Mertens told the News Tribune his group felt intimidated by the protesters.
Stortini later told the News Tribune the protesters were peaceful and “stayed outside the whole time.”
“There was no conflicts between the groups,” Stortini recalled.
But there were.
“We continued to play copyrighted music and wave trans pride flags and signs around until they finished. Then we moved to the entrance and proceeded to shame the people for attending the talk,” UPS Antifa’s report-back said.
“Two walked out looking like they wanted a fight,” they continued, “and when one of them was questioned about the event, he proceeded to shout and push two activists out of his way,”
UPS Antifa members and other activists continued to argue outside the restaurant with the Republican club attendees.
“Sometime in the middle of the debates, a woman got into her car and backed up very fast in an attempt to intimidate us,” UPS Antifa wrote. “Getting no reaction, she drove swiftly away.”
UPS Antifa claims 20 activists in total showed up to protest over the course of the night.
The next day, Joesippi’s issued an apology for the event. It’s since been deleted from their Facebook page for unknown reasons, but it was copied in part on UPS Antifa’s twitter.
“We believe that LGBTQ community should live openly without discrimination and enjoy equal rights, personal autonomy, and freedom of expression and association. Joeseppi’s reserves the right to refuse service to any organizations or groups who demonstrate hate,” the statement read in part.
According to Smillie, Knapp’s, the Round Table Pizza and Joesippi’s are all receiving backlash for, in Smillie’s words, “choosing their WHOLE community over those who use their platform to hurt parts of it.”
According to Anderson, Knapp’s will no longer be hosting the Republican club.
Abner Häuge (they/them) is a journalist and you can’t say they’re not because they got a Master’s from UC Berkeley’s Journalism School. After better journalist @desertborder texted them a hilarious screenshot of a Fox News segment, they spent all night memeing ‘ATTACK AND DETHRONE GOD’ and it became their catchphrase. You can usually find them in the bisexual aisle of the supermarket stocking up on Pocari Sweat for the boog.
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