Combat breaks out at Oregon drag queen story hour

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Photo by Chris Pietsch / The Register-Guard via AP
Photo by Chris Pietsch / The Register-Guard via AP

Proud Boys and neo-Nazis assault event, supporters fight back.

Combat broke out at a Eugene, Oregon, pub when a gang of Proud Boys and neo-Nazis tried to disrupt a drag queen story hour. Witnesses said that attendees fought back when the right-wing groups tried to storm the pub, after throwing rocks and smoke bombs at people waiting to attend the event.

The story hour was scheduled for Old Nick's Pub, and was to feature 11-year-old Vanellope MacPherson DuPont, a favorite with children who attend the story hours.

Right-wing provocateur Andy Ngo charged Old Nick's with "sexualizing children" and posted photos of Vanellope along with the day, time, and place of the event on his Twitter account.

According to Eugene's Register-Guard, crowds started to gather at Old Nick's around 10:00 a.m. on the day of the event, October 23. Several hundred LGBTQ community members and allies gathered in front of the pub, while dozens of opponents gathered across the street.

Many of the opposing crowd were identified by locals as Proud Boys and members of a Portland neo-Nazi group, the Rose City Nationalists. Some displayed assault rifles, witnesses said.

Eugene police were also on the scene.

"Because opposing groups were communicating plans to attend, possibly armed, Eugene Police created security plans to allow for a safe environment for everyone in the community to exercise their constitutional rights and freedoms, to protect the lives and property of all involved, and prevent safety disruption to uninvolved community members," the police said in a statement.

According to The Torch, a Lane Community College newspaper, the violence started when the right-wingers tried to enter the pub through a side door and were pushed back by community members. This precipitated an all-out assault on the pub. Police later intervened to separate the two sides.

The story hour went on without interruption.

"We had a wonderful safe day," the Old Nick's posted on its Facebook page. "Thank you to every one of you in our community who stood with us. Please be gentle with our staff this week. Almost all of us are queer and it was not easy for any of us. But we did it. Love wins."

The post received nearly 700 positive reactions.

Meanwhile, a similar event in Orlando, Florida, was canceled to avoid threats of violence. The LGBT+ Center Orlando announced it would cancel the event, scheduled for October 29, out of caution.

"Due to several threats from hate groups aimed at The Center and to those participating in Drag Queen Story Hour, we have decided to cancel the event for this Saturday's Halloween Edition scheduled for 2PM," the Center said in a Facebook post.

The event, which had been supported with a grant from the City of Orlando, was to feature Bridgette Galore. According to the Orlando Sentinel, 75 tickets had already been sold to children and their parents.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat and one of three openly Gay lawmakers in the Florida Legislature, said it's a shame hate can shut down a community event.

"I'm sad and angry that threats like these continue to happen against the LGBTQ community," he said. "Neo-Nazis organizing in Florida against Drag Queen Story Time? This is really dangerous and scary."