A southern California drag queen story hour was prevented from taking place Wednesday after protesters blocked the entrance of the San Fernando Library and repeatedly hollered “leave our kids alone!” at the wig-wearing performer Pickle, who stood on the sidewalk seemingly dumbfounded by the pushback.
The San Fernando Sun reported that that “50 right-wing demonstrators … illegally blockaded the entrances to the library.”
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It’s worth noting that a leftist militant earlier this year sucker-punched a videographer in the head outside a drag queen story hour in West Hollywood, and a sheriff’s deputy standing just feet away did nothing in response. So one might conclude that law enforcement is at least behaving with some consistency.
County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath’s office organized the drag queen story hour to help celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month, the Sun reported, adding that Horvath was at the library and saw the protest in person.
To say that Horvath was displeased is an understatement, as she fired off a rant on social media following the event’s cancellation.
“Protestors claimed they want to keep children safe while they pounded on doors, shouted obscenities & slurs toward my staff and library staff, and used strollers to blockade moving vehicles,” she posted on X. “The hypocrisy is astounding.”
Horvath added, “These disgusting tactics and efforts to incite violence prevented Pickle and Library patrons from even entering the building. I hope no one does to their families what they did to their neighbors today.”
She concluded with the following:
Libraries will not be breeding grounds for indoctrination of hate and contempt toward our fellow neighbor.
I apologize to the families who were excited, but could not get in; to Pickle, a respected drag artist and West Hollywood’s Drag Laureate, who was determined that the program be held; and to the dedicated Library staff who have to show bravery by just showing up to work.
The protestors’ message and actions today will not win in our continued fight for LGBTQ+ rights and equality. We will continue to build communities where every person is treated with dignity and respect – and diversity is celebrated, not attacked or shamed.
‘Protected class of citizens’
Pickle was understandably sour over the protest as well, telling the Sun: “It is a person’s right to protest and demonstrate. It is not a person’s right to prevent public programming from occurring. It is not a person’s right to physically prevent a protected class of citizens from entering a public library. And it is the responsibility of the county, it is the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Department, to ensure that those freedoms are protected. That did not happen today.”
What did police have to say?
San Fernando Police Lieutenant Pete Aguirre told the paper that the department was “advised of the protest with sufficient time to bring in resources” and that roughly 10 officers were present in preparation for the demonstration, along with a few county sheriff’s deputies.
Aguirre added to the Sun that the “primary objective” of law enforcement was “to ensure no one got assaulted, no one got injured. And in that end, we were successful. Secondary to that was opening the thruway to ensure people could get in and out.”
The paper said that “despite an illegal blockade of public space, no violence ensued, and no arrests were made.”
Alyssa Sonora, an organizer of the protest and cofounder of the San Fernando Valley Alliance community action group, told the Sun that due to drag queen story hours “we have to have these conversations with our kids at such a young age. It’s frustrating. We weren’t ready to have these conversations with them.”
‘Drag is an art form, like ballet or acting or singing’
Pickle was unmoved, telling the paper that “drag is an art form, like ballet or acting or singing — an art form that encourages expression. The work that I do is not only appropriate for children, but it is tailored to meet their educational goals to encourage them to read. It sets a very dangerous precedent to imagine that a person should not be allowed to read stories because of the way they look.”
Sergio Amalfitano, a local business owner who showed up in support of the event, told the Sun that “if you say that you don’t want to bring your kid to a drag queen story hour, by all means, don’t. But if you want to, you should be able to. The thing that was scary was the protesters. They were literally filming a little girl, and they were telling the mom that she deserved to have that child taken away. And they were telling the mom that she was a pedophile. And this little girl was crying in her mom’s arms. I had to stand physically in front of this grown man trying to film this child, to block him from filming her.”
According to the Daily Mail, Pickle posted on Instagram that “I will certainly not be intimidated by a mob, and I am thoroughly disappointed that I and other patrons were physically prevented from entering a public library and that the program was cancelled. I will be pursuing a thorough investigation of what happened today and will not stop until responsible parties are held accountable.”