A “straight Pride” event organised by the far-right Proud Boys group ended in chaos and violence when the angry mob clashed with counter-protesters.
The white supremacist group staged its third annual “Stanislaus County Straight Pride” in Modesto, California, on Saturday (28 August) – but the local LGBT+ community wasn’t prepared to let the event go ahead unchecked.
The Central California LGBTQ Collaborative banded together with anti-fascist activists to “fight ignorance with love and diversity”, according to an announcement on Facebook.
LGBT+ people gathered two hours before the planned straight Pride event in Modesto where they held their “no hate in the valley” demonstration.
There, they passed out Pride flags, pins, bags and badges alongside informative resources to the local community before the Proud Boys and other anti-LGBT+ groups descended on Modesto.
Around 100 people showed up for the counter-demonstration. Later, some of the counter-protesters migrated to Modesto’s Planned Parenthood headquarters – where the Proud Boys’ demonstration was due to take place – to show their opposition to the group.
The “straight Pride” demonstrators and LGBT+ and anti-fascist counter-protesters stayed away from each other for the first hour – but violence eventually broke out after 1pm, leading to police intervention, according to The Modesto Bee.
Two people were arrested at the Proud Boys’ ‘straight Pride’ event
Witnesses said violence broke out after Proud Boys members “aggressively assaulted the counter-protesters”, the Los Angeles Blade reported.
Law enforcement authorities declared an unlawful assembly and those gathered were told to leave the area. Police eventually used an aerial flash bang to disperse the remaining crowds.
One of those arrested is facing charges of failure to disperse and resisting arrest, while the other is facing a preliminary charge for fighting in public, local media reported.
Jupiter Dalby, who works with the Central California LGBTQ Collaborative, told The Modesto Bee that “straight Pride” events show that some areas such as Modesto continue to lag behind on LGBT+ equality.
“I think it’s quite frankly disgusting,” he said. He called on the city council and the local community to “stand up” for the LGBT+ community.
In its first year, the event reportedly only managed to attract a few dozen people, while they were vastly outnumbered by counter-protesters.
The Proud Boys, founded in 2016, has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
“They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric,” the SPLC said. The group has also been recognised as a “terrorist entity” by the Canadian government following their role in the Capitol riots.