Violence broke out at a drag storytelling event over the weekend between various anti-drag protesters and activists defending the event, in a series of filmed clashes that saw two arrested.
Billed as the ‘Rock-n-Roll Humanist Drag Queen Story Hour’, the all-ages drag show was held in Wadsworth Memorial Park just outside of Akron Saturday over the course of several hours, during which tensions remained high and threatened to boil over at several points as protesters vastly outnumbered supporters.
Many were armed with weapons, and several shouted hateful slurs and gave Nazi salutes, as guns were pointed and mace deployed in a series of scuffles the broke out toward the end of the four-hour event.
Recorded by journalists who attended the event, the increasingly rowdy altercations resulted in men from both sides being arrested and later charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Those charges stemmed from a series of recorded melees including one in which a protester wearing medieval body armor was maced by an attendee, and another where a man pulled a gun and threatened to shoot several event supporters.
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Violence broke out at a drag storytelling event in Wadsworth, Ohio, over the weekend between anti-drag protesters and activists defending the event, in a series of clashes that saw two arrested
Recorded by journalists who attended the event, the increasingly rowdy altercations resulted in men from both sides being arrested and later charged with disorderly conduct
Those charges stemmed from a series of recorded melees including one where a man – seen being led away by lawmen here – pulled a gun and threatened to shoot event supporters
The civil disturbance serves as the latest example of the continuing backlash seen toward the increasingly common practice of holding drag shows for children, which has caused many parents to accuse organizers of attempting to instill pro-LGBTQ beliefs in their children while they are still young.
That said, the event in a small city which serves as a sort of conservative outpost from its much larger, Dem-led neighbor a few miles east, was held as scheduled, despite drawing on social media in the days building up to the violence.
Days earlier, in a letter sent to residents, the city of Wadsworth confirmed in a public statement that there would be a stark police presence at the event, and warned residents that it could grow out of hand.
‘After much discussion and legal review, we have no choice but to let the event take place,’ Wadsworth Public Safety Director Matt Hiscock and Wadsworth Police Chief Dan Chafin told the city’s roughly 24,000 residents.
Many were armed with weapons, and several shouted hateful slurs and gave Nazi salutes, as guns were pointed and mace deployed in a series of scuffles the broke out toward the end of the four-hour event
The officials further advised that everyday residents should not attend, saying that residents ‘should avoid being in the park if at all possible.’
The pair’s warning, however, seemingly fell on deaf ears – as more than 200 protesters descended on the small park Saturday, hailing from various hate groups including the neo-Nazi-aligned ‘Blood Tribe’ and White Lives Matter of Ohio.
Other organizations seen in attendance included the white nationalist Patriot Front, the Proud Boys and several unaffiliated conservative groups – many of whose members sought to distance themselves from their more radical counterparts.
Vehicles seen littering the police-occupied event sported out-of-state license plates, while Police Chief Chafin said officers from his department nearby Medina city and county lost track of those in attendance at around 200 people.
Chafin confirmed Sunday that his department made two arrests during the ordeal, but said they could not comment on the men’s identities pending further investigation.
Two were arrested following a series of recorded melees – including one in which a protester wearing medieval body armor, seen here, was maced by an attendee
Protesters were seen toting signs bearing messages such as ‘White lives matter’ and ‘Mothers against grooming,’ referring to the alleged process of building trust with children or families with the ultimate goal of abusing children sexually.
Supporters, meanwhile -many of who grew violent at the sight of arriving hate groups – told reporters that the event’s purpose was ‘not to turn children gay but to keep gay children alive.’
Others protested the age appropriateness of people in drag reading to kids, while saying they were ‘shocked’ at the sort of radical groups the event had attracted.
The Proud Boys, for instance – an all-male neo-fascist organization known for its repeated clashes for its far-right nemesis Antifa – distanced themselves from white nationalist groups such as the red-clad neo-Nazi Blood tribe, waring them repeatedly to physically stay away.
When that group, led by known neo-Nazi Chris Pohlhaus, arrived, dozens of officers tasked with keeping the peace reportedly had to rush to their defense, as they received threats from their fellow anti-drag activists.
Amid the tense schisms on the anti-drag front, few of demonstrators could be heard hurling commands at the more brazen and openly hateful nationalist groups, shouting ‘Nazis, go home’ and other heated instructions.
In one recorded encounter, a member from Ohio’s White Lives Matter showed similar ideologial differences from more non-race related groups like the Proud Boys and the Patriot Front.
‘We’re all here for the same reason,’ a White Lives Matter Ohio members tells a nearby Proud boy.
‘We are, but go over that way,’ the Proud Boy replied, seeming deterred by some of the signage the group had been touting, which bore phrases such as ‘unity or extinction’ and ‘children & fa**ots don’t mix.’
‘They’re civic nationalists,’ explained a White Lives member, who accused organizers of engaging in pedophilia by holding the event. ‘We’re white nationalists.’
White nationalist group Patriot Front also made an appearance towards the end of the four hour show, with members sporting masks and a sign that read ‘Victory or death.’
The more radical Blood Tribe, joined by some other white Nationalists from unnamed hate groups, slammed those and other conservative groups including Republicans from Akron as ‘weak,’ egging on supporters by waving Nazi flags and repeatedly shouting ‘heil Hitler.’
Despite the volatile amalgam of ideologies, no one was injured as a result of violence at the event – though one person twisted a knee and another had a seizure, with both receiving treatment onsite by paramedics., Chafin said Sunday.
The chief added that two people who attended the even were arrested, with one of the suspects in support of the show and another who was there to protest.
The identity of the men has not yet been released – though footage of their arrests and the violent encounters that preceded them was posted to social media by a documentarian chronicling the various clashes that transpired.
Gun pulled and man maced in the face at family drag event in Ohio
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