Proud Boys Michiana disrupt Pride event at Tutt Library
SOUTH BEND, Ind.,--A children’s story time event at a St. Joseph County library was disrupted by a group from the far-right, all-male organization, the Proud Boys, claiming the event promoted perversion and oversexualization due to its pride-month content. On Monday evening, the Virginia M. Tutt Library, in partnership with the Tree House Gender Resource Center hosted a rainbow story time program followed by bubble wrap rainbow painting, however, no stories were told.
A group from the Michiana Proud Boys entered the room and disrupted the program with the intent of canceling it. The branch manager intervened and the library’s public safety manager and South Bend Police Department responded to the situation, asking the group to leave the building as they did not follow the library’s code of conduct.
In a response, the St. Joseph County Library apologized to its patrons who were at the library during that time as well as staff and community partners, and the administration is looking at security measures to continue inclusive programming, something that communications manager, Marissa Gebhard says is core to the library’s values.
“The library is a welcoming place for everyone,” said Gebhard. “It’s a place of belonging... So, our mission is to provide information and resources for everyone, and to support everyone. We do not stand for the spread of misinformation or censorship.”
There were no injuries or charges pressed following the event. Gebhard says protests are allowed at the library, if protestors follow the code of conduct.
All of the picture books were scheduled to be read at the rainbow story time event at Tutt Library, none of which have sexual or explicit content, but that did not stop the Michiana Proud Boys from stopping the pride-themed event.
The Midwest Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, David Goldenberg says disruptions like the one on Monday, have occurred throughout Pride month across the country.
“They have showed up at Pride marches they’ve showed up at other Pride events,” said Goldenberg. “They’ve showed up at libraries in other parts of the country. And so this appears to be a tactic or strategy that the proud boys are using to harass, threaten and intimidate members of the LGBTQ community.”
Goldenberg says it’s not just the LGBTQ+ community that this organization has targeted since its start in 2016, claiming the Proud Boys across the country to also be racist and anti-Semetic, attending school board meetings in the spring to suppress critical race theory in schools. But there’s one thing Goldenberg found exceptionally disturbing about Monday’s incident.
“What I think perhaps is most despicable about this incident at Tutt library is that it involved children, and it speaks to how horrible these individuals are, and how hateful they are, and how nothing is really off-limits for them,” said Goldenberg.
Tonna Robinson from the Indiana Mutual Aid Coalition says the group targets events involving children.
“The Proud Boys are targeting events where children are present, and I think they probably feel safer with the presence of children because it’s less likely that people are going to start physical confrontation.”
The event is expected to be rescheduled for a later date. Robinson recommends that when it is rescheduled, a large crowd, could deter any disruptions.
“In my experience, the larger the crowd of people, the less likely the Proud Boys are to furiously attempt something. So, the more adults come out the safer we are. Their safety in numbers.
The library plans to continue its inclusive programming, you can read the full statement here.
The Anti-Defamation League recommends people call out individuals you may know that may be a part of a discriminatory group such as the Proud Boys to help reduce the hate. Clink here for ADL and LGBTQ+ resources.