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Aug 31, 22

Straight (Pride) Outta Modesto!: Far-Right Rally a Flop as Counter-Protest Routs Proud Boys

Report from One People’s Project on recent mobilization against far-Right ‘Straight Pride’ rally in Modesto, California.

A planned “Straight Pride Rally,” which was in truth an annual anti-LGBTQ+ effort by neo-fascists, was aborted when they were opposed by over 200 antifascists at the local Planned Parenthood where they planned to rally on Saturday, one day before the 59th anniversary of the March on Washington. The rally, which was attended by local Proud Boys and other far-Right groups and individuals, was also a disappointing turnout for the less than 30 individuals after 80-100 of them came out last year.

The antifascists, many of them part of the LGBTQ+ community were at the rally site for an hour before the neo-fascists arrived, one lone street preacher from San Jose, with a sign saying “Jesus Saves from Hell” opposing them across the street on McHenry Ave. At one point during this exchange, Modesto Window Tint, which was next to where the preacher was standing began blasting banda music from its outside speakers to drown out his words after antifascists asked him to raise the volume. Despite this, owner Tony Manriquez noted they were not taking sides “We’re neutral. We’re just window tinters, man,” he told the Modesto Bee.

Just before 11 AM PDT, a handful of individuals attempted to confront the antifascists, resulting in a brief brawl that pushed them back. As they walked backwards from the advancing crowd the Straight Pride Rally supporters set off fireworks causing one of them to ignite a nearby bush. Almost immediately after this, police declared the rally an unlawful assembly and warned everyone to disperse. The two sides were kept away from each other by riot police who then began to push the antifascists off the Planned Parenthood property and out of the area, firing pepper spray bullets and bean bags into the crowd, injuring two. Three persons were arrested for “failure to disperse,” including two Straight Pride Rally attendees.

The rally area was quiet two hours later with the minuscule number of neo-fascists that showed up relocating their rally to a women’s health center two miles away. They still saw opposition as some passers-by pelted them with eggs at one point. Antifascists meanwhile, after being chased for much of those two hours by riot police, met up again in various locations. Some went to the local jail to provide jail solidarity for the counter-protester arrested. On Sunday morning, anti-choice chalkings were seen on the sidewalk around the Planned Parenthood building.

The Straight Pride rally was organized by  Don Grundmann a former member of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue whose latest organization is the National Straight Pride Coalition. He was a participant in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and is best known for inadvertently calling his organization “a totally peaceful, racist group” at a 2019 Modesto City Council meeting, causing the chamber to erupt with laughter and the video of the gaffe to go viral.

On their website, Grundmann promoted the rally as protesting “against the (Planned Parenthood) genocidal holocaust against the black community,” going on to name the NAACP, Vice-President Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker and Former President Barack Obama. They also announced that Brotherhood of a New Destiny (BOND) founder, minister and talk show host Jesse Lee Peterson, would be their Grand Marshall. Peterson, a Black man, has been a long time antagonist towards not just the LGBTQ+ community but especially the Black community and is known for working with and embracing White supremacists and their ideology, even calling Donald Trump, “the Great White Hope.”  His announcement as this rally’s Grand Marshall came despite how in recent months he has been embroiled in a sex scandal after two male associates claimed in interviews with the Church Militant – a far-right Catholic website – that Peterson engaged in sexual congress with them and propositioned others. In the end, those that attended the rally at the other location were predominately White and Peterson did not attend.

This was the fourth year Grundmann has held this rally.

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