A group of masked Antifa protesters armed with rifles showed up at a Texas drag queen brunch to defend those in defend those after a group of right-wing extremists – also armed – arrived to disrupt it.
Approximately 20 children and multiple self-proclaimed teachers were in attendance at the event in Roanoke Sunday, a trans activist ‘drag brunch’ at the Anderson Distillery and Grill.
The event saw students sit for brunch while watching performances from local drag queens dressed in skimpy outfits – which drew the ire of locals who disapproved of the procession.
Consequently, members of several conservative groups intent on putting a stop to the event convened at the restaurant around 1pm, many of them armed with guns.
Seemingly aware of these efforts, the group of masked anti-fascist counter protesters also arrived on the scene, brazenly standing guard outside the eatery holding the semiautomatic riles. Their presence caused tensions to mount between the two opposing forces.
Eventually, the two groups traded verbal barbs in a frightening encounter a local journalist caught on video.
The ensuing face-off, while heated, stopped shot of physical violence – but came dangerously close to devolving in an all-out conflict between the two heavily armed factions.
Cops said that no arrests or police reports were made during the incident – and had been aware of the planned protests and stationed in the area as a precaution.
News of the contentious drag brunch had spread for days on social media prior to the afternoon event, drawing complaints and calls for protests from several concerned locals.
Last week, troubled by the unrest, the distillery’s owner attempted to play down the sagacious nature of the event, saying on social media it would not contain any foul language, sexual content, or erotica.
‘It was never my intention to host an event that would result in controversy, hate and divisiveness,’ Jay Anderson wrote amid the growing discord. ‘It is my intention to welcome people from ALL walks of life into Anderson Distillery & Grill.’
Anderson’s son, Bailey, meanwhile, presided over the event – dressed in drag and going by the the drag name Trisha Delish.
The preface from Anderson, combined with his staff’s clear support for such an event, would prove polarizing – with dozens of members of groups such as Protect Texas Kids and the Proud Boys, most of them armed due to Texas’ lax gun laws.
Protect Texas Kids, founded by outspoken anti-trans activist Kelly Neidert, is billed an organization that seeks to ‘take a stand in protecting kids from the toxic, indoctrinating agenda of the left,’ according to its website.
Also present were members of like Texas Family Project, a similar Texas-based outfit that, like the two other aforementioned groups, regularly expressed anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ sentiment.
Prior to the event, Neidert called on supporters to protest the brunch and ‘put some pressure on the restaurant.’
Members of the groups would go on to show up in full force, but were still outnumbered by those attending the brunch, which staffers said sold out.
Furthering the disparity was the presence of some dozen or so Anitfa members, who showed up outside the school masked armed with rifles, standing guard as if to deter the growing number of conservative protesters flocking to the scene.
Also present at the protest wars was a masked member of the notorious right-wing Proud Boys, who stood menacing the assembled crowd with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire.
Footage taken at the scene showed the armed counter-protesters standing outside of the venue. One of them can be seen clutching a queer Pride flag.
Tension would go on to quickly mount between the two fundamentally opposed parties – a burgeoning schism noticed almost immediately by Texas Observer reporter Steven Monacelli, who also attended the event.
Monacelli, who is also a journalist with Rolling Stone, posted a tweet with pictures of the protest nothing the unrest. The tweet read, ‘Anti-trans activists are protesting a drag brunch in Roanoke, Texas, but are outnumbered by supporters of the event.’
He went on: ‘I’ve only been here for about five minutes and I’ve already seen quite a few heated exchanges.’
The images that accompanied Monacelli’s post showed anti-LGBTQ protesters holding signs bearing messages such as, ‘Christ is KING,’ and ‘Drag the queens out of town.’
Also visible were signs that read ‘Children cannot consent’ and ‘Stop sexualizing children,’ – with one homophobic scrawling reading: ‘Caution: Monkeypox hotspot approx. 50 ft away. Stay back.’
As tensions continued to rise, video from the protest clashed showed a bearded man claim that another one of the Antifa guards spit on him, nearly inciting a brawl.
When approached by an interviewer, the man claimed he was spit on by one of the masked guards after calling one them ‘F**king pu****s.’
He said’ ‘I’m here to support people who don’t indoctrinate and groom little eight-year-old kids.’
When a female police officer tried to get the man to moved away from the armed guards, another man wearing an Alex Jones Infowars T-shirt urges the man that he doesn’t have to listen to the officer.
Another man, meanwhile, expresses anger that the armed guards have covered their faces in bandanas and sunglasses, insinuating that they were coward.
Antifa and Proud Boys member often hide their faces to avoid having their images taken and identified by police or web users, especially in the event of a violent clash.
A group called Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club (EFJBGC) seemed to take credit for the Antifa members’ presence at the event, appearing to identify the armed masked protesters as members of its organization in a tweet.
‘The homies putting on the drag show tomorrow are not backing down to threats, the show will go on. Show up and show out your support for the community. Bring a friend,’ the post, shared at 12:30 pm local time, read.
EFJBGC claims to ‘[promote] and [assist] marginalized communities in organizing community defense against white supremacists [and] fascism,’ according to its website.
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