Aurora community turns back anti-drag protest

Counterprotesters in Aurora when Proud Boys failed to show up on Saturday, Dec. 3. Photo courtesy of Paula Merrington.

The LGBTQ community of Aurora defeated a planned protest of a drag brunch over the weekend.

News about a possible Proud Boys protest of a drag event at El Jefe Leña y Mar broke last week. The far-right group claimed the adult event was an all-ages event and threatened to dox any parents bringing their kids.

The community rallied and planned a counter protest to meet the protest head on. Local LGBTQ and allied organization condemned the Proud Boys plans. Groups such as Parasol Patrol: Fox Valley announced that they would form a barrier between the group and those going to the drag event.

The efforts were a success. With a strong community response pushing back, the Proud Boys never showed up.

“Over 100 of us showed up,” said Paula Merrington, an organizer with the Parasol Patrol. “The Proud Boys were nowhere to be seen. My guess is they drove by and were scared to show their faces.”

It was the one victory over the weekend as Proud Boys had planned protests across the country.

In Columbus, Ohio, a drag queen story hour was canceled over security concerns. The Buckeye Flame reported that there were conflicting statements about why security couldn’t be finalized. The online newspaper reported that host Red Oak Community School couldn’t balance out the conflicts the volunteer community security team had with having a uniformed police presence at the event.

School Manager Cheryl Ryan said Columbus Police had not been as responsive as community groups, offering only a special duty officer for hire, saying the police had offered only a “casual distant acknowledgement” of the event. 

The Flame reported that, according to the city, that the school decided the day before the event not to work with police and a private security firm that had been engaged by the performers, which then caused the performers to pull out of the event. 

While the story hour was canceled, the Proud Boys still came and were joined by other groups. Vice reported that at least 50 Proud Boys showed up in their “colors,” some of whom wore tactical vests and covered their faces with masks and ski goggles. They were joined by the white supremacist group Patriot Front and an unnamed group of armed men in camouflage.

About 15 others affiliated with the network “White Lives Matter” showed up waving their flag and performed Hitler salutes, Vice reported. Some members of that group also held a large homemade banner that read “Groomers Not Welcome.” There were counter protesters and police had to step in during confrontations.

Two different Florida cities, Lakeland and Fort Lauderdale, also saw anti-drag protests, Vice reported. In Lakeland, members of NatSoc Florida, a new white supremacist group, dressed in their red and black uniform, gathered outside a venue where a family-friend music, art and drag show was taking place and waved swastika flags and a white Lives Matter flag.

Proud Boys joined with the local Moms for Liberty chapter and Gays Against Groomers at a “anti-grooming rally” in Fort Lauderdale.

Three different events in New York City were disrupted, according to the news site. Taylor, Texas and Southern Pines, N.C. also saw protests.

Southern Pines was also affected by the power outage caused when two substations were shot with assault rifles. What has been described as a “deliberate act,” cut off power to 45,000 customers over the weekend with rumors flying fast that it was related to the Southern Pines event. Local authorities have not found a motive or suspects for the attack.