Multiple incidents over the weekend: FBI now investigating North Carolina power outage, plus more shocking updates as anti-drag aggression intensifies
In at least four US states, Neo-Nazis, Proud Boys, and other anti-LGBT extremists executed strikes at events involving drag queens over the weekend.
Over the weekend (November 3), right-wing demonstrators took aim at another drag event, with more masked militants – some of whom were armed – showing up to intimidate and cause disruption.
A “Drag Queen Story Hour”-style event for children had been scheduled to take place in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, but event organisers had to pull the plug due to intimidation from protesters.
The scheduled “Holi-Drag Storytime” at the First Unitarian Church of Columbus was cancelled at the last-minute, following unsuccessful pleas for support from local law enforcement and subsequent internal concerns, organizers said.
The anti-drag/ anti-LGBT protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations targeting drag shows across the US, led by right-wing militants including members of Proud Boys and Patriot Front.
Reports say this particular demonstration had been planned in the immediate aftermath of Colorado’s Club Q shooting, which killed five people.
The disruption today at a drag event in Columbus, Ohio, is the latest in a string of organised demonstrations at drag events across the US, led by right-wing militants, some armed, including members of Proud Boys and Patriot Front. #drag #lgbtq #Columbus pic.twitter.com/kf8CVT2fQS
— Queer Insider 🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️ (@qitweets) December 4, 2022
Organizers later said that they were unable to secure adequate local police presence to ensure the safety of performers and attendees.
“I’m here on this empty stage because in the end there was a disagreement about how this community should be best protected,” Cheryl Ryan, School Manager, Red Oak Community School, said on the day.
“I spent a week calling our police department and leaving voicemails about the reports we had seen,” Ryan said. “After a week, I was told we could hire a special duty police officer who may or may not show up because they are understaffed.”
The Holi-Drag Story Hour event at Red Oaks Community School, OH that had to be cancelled due to threats from Proud Boys, some armed. Law enforcement refused to take it seriously or help #LGBTQ pic.twitter.com/MREUKlWpm7
— Queer Insider 🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️ (@qitweets) December 5, 2022
Despite the event’s cancellation, over 100 protestors – some armed – stood across from the church yelling as passers-by.
Proud Boys dancing to Village People’s ‘YMCA’ at today’s protest in Columbus, Ohio pic.twitter.com/HR9e927nad— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) December 3, 2022
Some 15 others affiliated with “White Lives Matter” also showed up waving their flag – a white square with a cross in the corner – and making Hitler salutes.
Some could be seen with banners saying slogans like, “Groomers Not Welcome.”
Power cuts in North Carolina
That same evening (December 3), around 40,000 customers were left without electricity in North Carolina’s Moore County, per reports from CNN.
A state of emergency and curfew went into effect at 4pm Sunday as law enforcement, city and energy officials continued investigating the incident and working to restore the two failed substations.
According to the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, utility crews responding the power outage discovered signs of potential vandalism, including two substations damaged by gunfire.
Word quickly began to spread across social media, with many suggesting it might have been a planned strike with anti-LGBT+ motives.
Then, anti-LGBT right-winger and Jan 6 protester Emily Grace Rainey – who regularly shares her views that drag is “grooming” to social media – shared a post to Facebook, saying: “The power is out in Moore County and I know why.”
Soon after, Rainey followed-up with an image of Moore County’s Sunrise theatre, which had been scheduled to host a drag show that evening, captioned: “God will not be mocked.”
The FBI has since confirmed (December 5) it has joined the search for a person or group that may have intentionally disabled a substation.
The Moore County Sheriff’s Office – now along with the FBI – is searching for the culprits in what has turned into a criminal investigation.
“The person, or persons, who did this knew exactly what they were doing,” Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said during a Sunday news conference. “We don’t have a clue why Moore County.”
Fields said multiple rounds were fired at the two substations. “It was targeted, it wasn’t random,” he said.
Watch Moore County NC Sheriff Ronnie Fields answer a reporter’s question about Emily Rainey & her social media posts & how they visited her to ask about them and prayed with her & have deemed them to be false. #MooreCounty https://t.co/brk1r3sATM pic.twitter.com/q4IpbM033Z
— Diana, Humanoid Lizard Alien Pirate Queen (@PotrzebieSystem) December 4, 2022
Fields addressed Rainey’s social media post during the press conference, saying that following a ‘prayer meeting’, she had been exonerated of any involvement.
Shortly after the press conference, social media users began to share images of Sheriff Fields posing for a photograph with Rainey from 2000.
Update: Here’s a picture of the Moore County Sheriff, Ronnie Fields, with the women who at first claimed she knew who committed the Domestic Terrorist attack on the Moore County power grid, but after a Prayer Meeting with the Sheriff, has been exonerated of any involvement. pic.twitter.com/AyQYMKf8vR
— Sgt Joker (@TheSGTJoker) December 5, 2022
As of Monday afternoon, about 38,000 homes and businesses remain without power, according to Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks. He said it could take until Thursday to restore power to everyone affected, per CNN.
The estimated cost of the substation damage is in the millions, the sheriff said Sunday.
Elsewhere, in Lakeland, Florida, members of NatSoc Florida, a white supremacist group, gathered outside a venue where a family-friend music, art and drag show was happening and waved swastika flags and a white Lives Matter flags, per Vice News.
Also in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, uniformed Proud Boys joined forces with the local “Moms for Liberty” chapter for an “anti-grooming rally”, alongside right-wing group “Gays Against Groomers.”
VIDEO THREAD: On Saturday, Proud Boys rallied with the groups Gays Against Groomers and Moms for Liberty held a rally in Fort Lauderdale titled “Protect the Children.”— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) December 4, 2022
Video in thread by @davedeckerphoto for @N2Sreports pic.twitter.com/mzrrZ9RPw2
Vice News also shared reports of far-right organizations also targeting three separate drag queen events in New York over the weekend.
Members of an anti-semitic, Holocaust-denying group called the Goyim Defence League tried to disrupt a Drag Story Hour event at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan, while around 20 far-right activists protested a Drag Queen story hour event in Staten Island, and a smaller group showed up to a similar event at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Oceanside in Long Island, New York.
TODAY: “Shut It Down!” Protesters gathered at a rally, speaking against Drag Story Hour events at Staten Island Children’s Museum.— Oliya Scootercaster (@ScooterCasterNY) December 3, 2022
Video by Ed Quinn @edquinnphoto @FreedomNTV
Also this weekend, in Southern Pines, North Carolina, far-right protesters held a protest outside a theater ahead of a performance of “Downtown Divas” on Saturday night.
Police installed barricades and displayed signs saying that weapons were banned from the area.
Around 50 protesters showed up. They prayed and held signs saying things like “this is porn not female impersonators,” according to The Pilot, via Vice News.
Educational drag shows, tailored to young people, have become a regular target for the far-right, notably so since the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde.
Advocacy groups have suggested that the targeting of drag shows is a direct response to calls for stricter gun control, as a way to divert attention from demands for effective reform.
Extremist MAGA subscribers are made aware of these events by social media accounts like Libs of TikTok, which shares event details in the hope of inciting disruption.
Some Twitter commentary below from across the weekend is well worth a look:
A group of christofascists has shot at power substations in Moore county to shut down a drag show happening in town. 40,000 residents are without power, people who need power for medical devices, families who need to stay warm, plunging a community into darkness. A terror attack. https://t.co/UBRBLpB3gj
— Ethan Embry (@EmbryEthan) December 4, 2022
Drag queens didn’t leave thousands of children without power, water and their medications that need to be refrigerated..that was domestic terrorists.
— 𝐁𝐞𝐤𝐬 (@antifaoperative) December 4, 2022
DHS issued a warning of domestic terror threats to the LGBTQ community. In the past 48 hours, a man was arrested for threatening to murder a doctor in Boston, fascists showed up armed to a drag event in Ohio, and fascists shot up power stations to stop a drag show. pic.twitter.com/lSsM7bh4PD
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) December 4, 2022
40,000 people sit without power as temperatures drop below freezing. Right wing figures insinuate that a drag show was targeted.
Hate account Libs of TikTok, defended by Elon Musk, sent her audience on them weeks prior.
Subscribe to support my workhttps://t.co/eEdsLQdvOt
— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) December 5, 2022
Imagine depriving 40,000 residents in Moore County, NC of power because people were so afraid of drag queens they shot up THREE power stations, cutting power to houses and hospitals.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant!☮️ (@mmpadellan) December 4, 2022
If you're just tuning in, 40,000 Americans in Moore County, NC, are without power and many without water today after domestic terrorists coordinated simultaneous attacks on three electrical substations.
The reason for this attack was to stop an 18+ drag show.
— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@stealthygeek) December 4, 2022
Wearing body armor to protect themselves from… drag queens? https://t.co/nGL7bbYz0p
— Jon Cryer (@MrJonCryer) December 4, 2022
showing up to a fun family drag event in military gear with assault rifles is definitely one way to protect children and not actually just traumatize them for a long time pic.twitter.com/k0JXFoq7GV
— matt (@mattxiv) December 4, 2022