Filed under: Action, Anti-fascist, Pacific, Queer, Solidarity, Trans, Uncategorized, White Supremacy
Report on successful defense of a drag story hour event in Sacramento that was threatened by neo-Nazis and Proud Boys.
Last Sunday in Sacramento, community once again showed up en masse to defend a drag queen story hour from Proud Boys and neo-Nazis. This was the latest in a series of far-Right attacks against the shop hosting the event, and part of a broader pattern of hate groups targeting all-ages LGBTQ+ spaces. Despite online doxxing and calls for violence by white supremacists, the owners and performer refused to be intimidated, and the event went on with overwhelming community support.
Several Proud Boys, far-Right livestreamers, and a neo-Nazi wearing a swastika shirt showed up to protest, but were kept at bay by a crowd of at least a hundred who gathered to protect the venue and those inside. Defenders escorted families with children to and from their cars, and once the story time ended, (despite a significant police presence there protecting the fascists), angry community members chased the hate groups through the surrounding neighborhood until they retreated to their cars.
Background and Lead-up
Over the last several years, anti-LGBTQ hate attacks – especially against queer youth, drag queens, and the trans community – have been growing at an alarming rate. Local hate groups, most notably the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis associated with White Lives Matter and the Active Club Network, have followed suit with numerous attacks against all-ages LGBTQ+ events. Poppy + Pot, a Black-owned florist shop located in the historically Black Oak Park neighborhood in Sacramento, is one of their latest targets.
Last month, the shop hosted their first drag queen story hour and immediately received hatred online. Instead of cancelling, shop owners called on the community to support the event and ensure the safety of those attending. When a group of Proud Boys showed up day-of to try to shut it down, they were faced with a crowd of parents, neighbors, activists, and anti-fascists who successfully defended the space with collective action (and lots of umbrellas)!
This time around, the hate groups escalated their tactics. Days before the April event, two neo-Nazi groups, NorCal Active Club and another white supremacist harassment group on telegram, doxxed the business owners and the drag performer online. Their posts included calls for violence and harassment along with home addresses, personal info, and even photos of the shop owners’ children. The online threats began, and the shop was flooded with negative reviews from far-Right trolls.
A day after the original doxx, the Sacramento Proud Boys (who share membership and often collaborate with neo-Nazis) re-posted it on Twitter and promised to show up to the event. The shop owners took to social media to rally support, and word spread quickly throughout the community. Supporters left positive reviews online and pledged to be there to protect the event.
On the Ground Report
On Sunday, April 16th, supporters arrived well before drag queen story hour began and gathered around Poppy + Pot with pride flags, banners, and umbrellas. The crowd was a diverse mix of activists, anti-fascists, parents, neighbors, and community members of all ages, with a strong POC and LGBTQ presence. Everyone shared a common goal: keep the kids safe and keep the Nazis away.
At 10:45 am, a small group of Proud Boys were spotted a few blocks away from Poppy + Pot. By 11:15 am, they headed south on Franklin Blvd and approached the venue. Community defenders charged forward to the end of the block, using their banners, bodies, and umbrellas to stop the Proud Boys from getting any closer. Police arrived shortly after and formed a line to protect the fascists from the community supporters- a position they would maintain on for the duration of the event.
Proud Boys attempted to advance on the crowd several times, but were repelled with pepper spray, umbrellas, and fists. In one instance, a particularly violent Proud Boy known as “Juice” rushed the crowd and tried to attack someone. His punch was quickly blocked and returned with full force, and he was dragged away into an ambulance by the police, bloody and beaten. Juice has a history of brutally attacking people at protests, particularly women and people who are smaller than him. He also tried to violently force his way into a drag show in Woodland last June. Naturally, we were overjoyed to see someone finally stand up to this bully and give him a taste of his own medicine.
The fascists’ numbers remained small throughout the day, but included several infamous and potentially dangerous actors. Aside from the Proud Boys, several far-Right livestreamers also showed up- including Josh Fulfer, whose sister pulled a gun on protesters at a local trans rights rally last month. Later, a masked neo-Nazi wearing a swastika t-shirt joined the far-Right behind police lines. He Sieg Heiled throughout the event, and was also seen fist-bumping a Proud Boy. Other far-Right personalities later disavowed his presence online – even going so far as to claim he was an infiltrator trying to make them look bad – however, it’s clear that he was known and welcomed by other extremists in attendance.
Meanwhile, away from the front lines, community members worked in groups to escort families with children to and from the venue, shielding them from view of the far-Right. Inside Poppy + Pot, the drag story hour event was a total success. The room was full and the atmosphere peaceful, despite the hatred being fended off outside. It’s worth noting that the impromptu groups who escorted families to and from their vehicles were absolutely critical. It seemed like most people who showed up were doing this work as needed, and it made a huge difference in helping parents feel safe and preventing people from being targeted. After the event, one family reported that the previously mentioned Proud Boy, Juice, punched the window of their car with their children in it, and threatened them as they were driving off.
Once the story hour had concluded and most of the families were on their way home, the far-Right started to retreat down Franklin Blvd. with the police following, still intent on protecting them. Much of the crowd pursued, and when the far-Right split up to get back to their vehicles, each had a group of protesters chasing after them. Some fascists managed to make it safely to their cars, and others weren’t so lucky. Footage shows one Proud Boy laid out on the sidewalk, and the neo-Nazi in the Swastika T-shirt was chased for blocks until he took shelter in a nearby Chinese restaurant. There, police barricaded him inside for his own safety while a group of 15-20 angry community members waited outside. Several people from the laundromat next door joined in, and the Nazi’s Uber driver drove off without him once he was told what was going on. Eventually, the Nazi was escorted out in a police car.
Overall, Sunday was a resounding victory, and a great example of how effective community defense can take shape from a mixture of careful planning and spontaneous action among a diverse group of individuals, organizations, and affinity groups. The sheer amount of support that Poppy + Pot received is heartening. This is an instance where people who were being attacked asked their community for help instead of giving in and staying silent to avoid further targeting. And, the community showed that not only are we willing to show up and try to protect them, we can also do it successfully.
This happened materially, as well as in spirit – the crowd more than doubled in size from the previous event, the fascists were successfully run off, the parents and children were shielded from the violence, and the vast majority of neighbors and random passerbys that we encountered were supportive. One of us was inspired when an elderly neighbor came out of his house with bottles of water for the crowd. After talking to us, he emerged awhile later with an umbrella of his own and stood beside us. This is how it works. We are doing it. We keep us safe.