Police are investigating an incident that occurred during a Drag Queen Story Hour at the San Lorenzo Library on Saturday afternoon after Panda Dulce, the San Francisco drag performer hosting the reading, said they were targeted by “a group of 8-10 Proud Boys” who stormed the room and shouted homophobic and transphobic threats at them, forcing them to leave the event with a security guard and hide in a back office.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said that police responded to a report of a disturbance at the library at around 1:30 p.m. and discovered five men “described as members of the Proud Boys organization.” The men were “described as extremely aggressive with a threatening violent demeanor causing people to fear for their safety,” the sheriff’s office said. It is not clear whether they are members of the national Proud Boys organization or were simply representing themselves as such.
The sheriff’s office said an “active hate crime investigation is underway, as is an investigation into the annoying and harassing of children.”
“They got right in our faces. They jeered. They attempted to escalate to violence,” Dulce wrote, adding that the confrontation “totally freaked out all of the kids.”
In a press release, the sheriff’s office said they escorted the men from the premises. But after they were out of the building, Dulce said the group of protestors then proceeded to form a line in an attempt to cut off the exit doors to the library. At this point, Dulce returned to the library and finished the reading, which was geared toward preschool-aged children in celebration of Pride Month.
“I eventually got out. I’m safe. I’ll be fine,” wrote Dulce. “Drag queen story hours have always seen protestors. And I’ve always received hate mail. But today hit different.”
Dulce was one of the first drag performers to lead a Drag Queen Story Hour when author Michelle Tea spearheaded the program in San Francisco in 2015. While the events quickly garnered positive feedback and are intended to encourage open-minded discussion of gender identity among children and their parents, they’ve been frequently targeted for harassment by anti-LGBTQ, far-right extremists, who have attempted to dox the participants and attendees.
Notably, Saturday’s event was amplified late last month by Libs of TikTok, an influential right-wing social media account that was suspended on Instagram and had some of its tweets removed earlier this week after posting the locations of drag-focused events for children taking place across the country.
A spokesperson for the Alameda County Library told SFGATE on Sunday afternoon that it would continue to celebrate Pride Month and offer similar programming.
“Libraries are open to all and are places that foster inclusion of all our communities. Attempts to intimidate and silence others are not tolerated in libraries,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. ”We are grateful to Panda Dulce for showing bravery and resilience and finishing the Storytime event. …We appreciate the support that has poured in from communities throughout the Bay Area.”