California authorities opened a hate crime probe after alleged Proud Boys arrived at a public library for Drag Queen Story Hour and began "acting extremely aggressive with a threatening violent demeanor."
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said that deputies responded at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday to the San Lorenzo Library for a report of a disturbance, and upon arrival, learned an "LGBTQ community member was hosting a reading event at the library called, ‘Drag Queen Story Hour.’"
Children, parents and other LGBTQ community members were present at the event.
"A group of 5 men entered the library and disrupted the reading event. The men were described as members of the Proud Boys organization, known to be a right wing hate group with anti-LGBTQ affiliations," Lt. Ray Kelly, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, wrote.
"The men began to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs at the event organizer," Kelly said in a press release. "The men were described as extremely aggressive with a threatening violent demeanor causing people to fear for their safety."
Deputies responded to the scene and "were able to de-escalate the situation," Kelly added in the press release published Sunday, announcing that: "An active hate crime investigation is underway as is an investigation into the annoying and harassing of children."
The sheriff’s department "will dedicate all resources to ensure the safety of members of our LGBTQ community," Kelly wrote. "We will make sure any future events at the library are safe against hate speech and threats of violence. As we celebrate Pride Month, we will be swift in our response to any incidents where there are threats to harm members of this community."
"We will release further details as the investigation continues," he added.
The Southern Poverty Law Center designates the Proud Boys as an extremist hate group.
Last week, the Department of Justice indicted five members of the Proud Boys, including the group’s former national chairman, with seditious conspiracy and other charges for their actions before and during the breach of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.
According to court documents, the Proud Boys describe themselves as members of a "pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world, aka Western Chauvinists."
This comes as lawmakers in Texas and Florida have recently spoken out against drag show events advertised for children during Pride month amid concerns parents are allowing kids to be exposed to overtly sexual behavior and content. Viral footage and photos showed children stuffing cash into the underwear of one performer during a "Drag the kids to pride" event at a Dallas gay bar, prompting protests.
In response, state Rep. Bryan Slaton, a Republican, said he was organizing legislation to address the "disturbing trend in which perverted adults are obsessed with sexualizing young children. Meanwhile, Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini said last week he would also propose legislation to charge with a felony and terminate parental rights of any adult who bring a child "to these perverted sex shows."
Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is a non-profit founded in 2015 in San Francisco, California, with at least 38 chapters in 27 states and Washington, D.C., in the United States alone, according to its website.
The non-profit says it organizes events where drag performers read stories to children at libraries, schools, bookstores and other venues, allowing children to "see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real."
The New York Post recently reported that the New York City-based chapter received more than $200,000 in taxpayer funding over the past years and has received support from the New York City Department of Education to expand programs into public schools for children as young as age 3.