Dozens of protesters physically blocked the entrance to the San Fernando Library this week to stop a scheduled drag storytime reading event from taking place.
Videos posted on social media showed a group of about 70 people — some of whom had previously attended similar demonstrations in North Hollywood, Glendale, and elsewhere — wearing black-and-white shirts reading, “Leave our kids alone.” They chanted the same slogan through bullhorns while hurling verbal abuse and slurs at the guest reader.
Story hours, during which drag queens read to children at venues such as libraries, schools and bookstores, have drawn fury and condemnation from conservatives and right-wing extremists across the country. Some events have been the subject of anti-LGBTQ+ threats and at times violent confrontations.
Wednesday’s scheduled 30-minute event, which organizers said was intended to promote youth literacy, never took place.
“What was meant to be a celebration of love and inclusion turned into the opposite,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, the event’s host, said in a statement Thursday….
Horvath’s staff said in an email that the supervisor, who was inside the library, did not officially cancel the event. But it did not proceed because demonstrators “blockaded” entrances — denying entry to both library patrons and drag queen Pickle, the guest reader.
Pickle, Los Angeles chapter president of the nonprofit Drag Story Hour, said she parked blocks away from the library “for safety reasons,” anticipating some hostility.
Video footage showed that San Fernando police officers encircled Pickle near the rear entrance. The phalanx moved toward a metal gate but stopped short as some protesters screamed “pervert,” “pedophile” and “disgusting freak” at Pickle.
About six to eight protesters refused to leave the entrance even after police issued a dispersal order, according to Pickle. The San Fernando Police Department did not confirm or deny whether such an order had been given.
The drag performer said she and the police then attempted to move to the front entrance. As they walked, protesters blared car horns, refused to move and positioned nearby tables to block the front entryway, she said.
“At this point, the police weren’t making arrests, they weren’t stopping the mob and they were allowing an unelected group of people to determine who could and who could not access a public building,” Pickle said. “Shame on the San Fernando police….”
San Fernando Police Lt. Pete Aguirre said 10 officers were deployed to the library.
Aguirre said no arrests were made and no assaults or property damage were reported.
Aguirre said protesters began arriving at 10:30 a.m., with most staying until the event was terminated at noon. Others didn’t leave for another hour and engaged with a “small contingent of counter protesters.”
“We weren’t able to get to the venue, but we ensured that the performer was not assaulted in any way and that they were able to leave the venue unharmed,” Aguirre said.
From L.A. Times