SAN LORENZO, Calif. - A librarian who witnesses a group of Proud Boys storming a Drag Queen event at the San Lorenzo library said the five men terrified the kids, parents and community members who had come simply to hear a story.
Cindy Chadwick, the county librarian, described the Saturday scene about 1:30 p.m.
"They began insulting and otherwise verbally abusing our performer," Chadwick said.
Alameda County sheriff's deputies said the men stormed in shouting homophobic and transphobic slurs, filming as they yelled. The men were extremely aggressive with a threatening violent demeanor, according to authorities. Many wore shirts emblazoned with assault rifles that are popular with the far-right extremist group —
The performer was Panda Dulce, who has been part of Drag Queen Story Hour for years.
She said the men yelled and called her derogatory words, including an "it."
"It totally freaked out all of the kids. They got right in our faces. They jeered," she wrote on Instagram.
Chadwick said the men's behavior was highly inappropriate, especially at a family event at a library.
"It was all in front of the children, and it frightened them," she said.
The Proud Boys is an organization known to be a right-wing hate group with anti-LGBTQ affiliations. The group in general is in the spotlight as members were also behind the Capitol Riot on Jan. 6, 2021. A second hearing is set for Monday.
An active hate crime investigation was launched into the annoying and harassing of children, officials said.
"We had parents and children there who wanted to come to this event and chose to be there. And to have people come in and try to intimidate those folks and us from trying to do a program like this was just beyond the pale for me," Chadwick said.
The Alameda County Sheriff's office said they will dedicate all resources to ensure the safety of the LGBTQ community.
"We will make sure any future events at the library are safe against hate speech and threats of violence," Lt. Ray Kelly said in a statement. "As we celebrate Pride Month, we will be swift in our response to any incidents where there are threats to harm members of this community."
No one was physically injured and no arrests were made. Sheriff’s investigators are still working to positively identify the men who disrupted the event.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, called what happened the "direct result of political attacks on LGBTQ people." He then received death threats on Sunday.
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, who represents San Lorenzo, called what the Proud Boys did an "abhorrent attack."
"We must reject this hate and extremism whenever it shows itself," he said in a statement. "There is no place for this hate in the East Bay and we all need to speak up with one voice saying so."
Panda Dulce came out after the men had left and finished reading. The event was among several Pride Month events at the library, which has hosted Drag Queen Story Hour events in the past, before the pandemic.