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Mother confronts Ohio police officer after he high-fives Proud Boys outside drag storytime event

The Independent logo The Independent 12/5/2022 Graig Graziosi
Screenshot 2022-12-05 at 2.12.25 PM.png © screengrab/The Recount/Twitter Screenshot 2022-12-05 at 2.12.25 PM.png

A school in Columbus, Ohio cancelled a drag queen storytime event after armed right-wing extremists intimidated the organisers. During the event, a police officer greeted the protesters, prompting a mother to ask him why he was so cordial with the group.

The protest played out semi-live over social media, including the video of the mother confronting the police officer.

Columbus Police Sergeant Steven Dyer, who greeted the men, was asked on camera why he greeted the Proud Boys, and he said he did so "to build relationships."

The woman asking him the question responded by asking "with fascists?"

He insisted he was not supporting their cause, but simply responded positively to them because one of them complimented his mustache.

"I am not supporting their cause, I am not here hanging out with them. I am here to support their right to protest," Mr Dyer said. "They were talking about my mustache, the guy said I had a good mustache. That is all it is."

The mother says she hopes "you’re telling me the truth," to which Mr Dyer gives her his name and business card.

The event, called "Holi-Drag Storytime," was hosted by the Red Oak Community School and was scheduled to happen off school grounds at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus over the weekend.

However, Ohio’s chapter of the Proud Boys, a violent right-wing gang, announced they planned to attend and protest the event, according to the Associated Press.

Cheryl Ryan, the school’s manager, told the AP that they cancelled the event after an internal debate over "how this community could be best protected."

According to Ms Ryan, a "community defense team" volunteered to protect the event, but did not feel comfortable with a police presence, which the performers requested.

"In the end our performers felt unsafe without a police presence while our safety team felt unsafe with a police presence," Ms Ryan said. "So it turns out our biggest problem wasn’t the Proud Boys after all."

The Proud Boys did show up, as did members of Patriot Front, another extremist right-wing group, to protest the event. Between 50 and 70 people attended the protest, which included shouting and chanting outside the church.

The event was intended to include drag performers reading stories to children and singing holiday songs, according to the school.

According to Ms Ryan, the school had "sold almost 1,000 tickets" for $10 each, and raised more than $5,000 for a local LGBTQ charity.

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