It’s 2016 all over again in the Central Valley, where a group of entrenched bigots continue to want to hold annual “Straight Pride” events in Modesto to rile up the libs and get media attention.
You may recall when National Straight Pride Coalition leader, San Leandro-based chiropractor Don Grundmann, stood before the Modesto City Council in August 2019 arguing for why his group should be granted a permit for their event.
“We’re a totally peaceful, racist group!” Grundmann proclaimed, in the most perfect of Freudian slips, garnering howls of laughter from the assembled citizenry.
Well, the event still went ahead in 2019, and then again in 2020, and as with so many things on the far right (and far left!), the messages have been very mixed and muddled! The organizers of this Straight Pride held their 2020 event outside the Planned Parenthood in Modesto, because the event has — apparently — become both a protest against LGBTQ people, and a protest against abortion rights.
As Grundmann said in 2020, obviously troublingly, “We know that our opponents will attack us, and they have the same tired thing of racism. It’s very clear. We’re there to oppose Planned Parenthood killing 20 million Blacks.”
(A quick glance at Grundmann’s organization’s website that shows in addition to advocating for “babies” and against the “Homosexual Movement,” the group also advocates for the superiority of Western Civilization, and the idea that Caucasians are “the biological majority of the historical developers and founders of Western Civilization.” Nothing racist there!)
A local LGBTQ pride organization, MoPride Inc., told local station ABC10 in 2020 that they sat out the first year’s event, but they launched a counter-protest in 2020 because they didn’t want to send a message to queer people that they weren’t safe in the community.
That counter-protest to the annual demonstration has grown in size, and as KRON4 and the Modesto Bee report, counter-protesters outnumbered Straight Pride coalition members by about 5 to 1 on Saturday.
Over 250 people shut down the white nationalist "Straight Pride" rally today in #Modesto in front of Planned Parenthood. Police attacked the crowd with projectile weapons, injuring several, after it successfully repelled an attack by a small group of Proud Boys. pic.twitter.com/1snmjIcq5i
— OFF THE 99 (@Off_The_99) August 28, 2022
Holding signs that said things like “Lord forgive us and our nation,” “Babies’ Lives Matter,” and “Normal. Natural. Healthy. Sane.” the 30 or so Straight Pride folks were met with around 125 to 150 counter-protesters with signs like “Straight Pride is Hate Pride” and “Defend Abortion Rights.”
Things quickly turned violent, and this became a seen like many around the Bay in 2016 in which counter-protesters and Proud Boys/militia types showed up to do street battle with each other. Because this is America.
Per the Modesto Bee, “A scuffle ensued as a Proud Boy attempted to push past the police, said a man who gave his name only as Richard. He said he watched the violence as a ‘straight pride’ supporter but did not identify as a Proud Boy himself.”
Then a counter-protester threw a water bottle, and then there were more water bottles, and a firework went off — and it was off to the races.
Police declared it an unlawful gathering, and 25 officers in riot gear tried to quiet things down. Counter-protesters said that police beat them with batons, and many suffered from being sprayed with pepper-spray.
Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Sharon Bear tells the Bee that three people were ultimately arrested, including one counter-protester and two from the Straight Pride contingent, all for failing to disperse. Also, a smoke bomb caused a nearby bush to catch on fire.
The groups went their separate ways before the scheduled noon start time of the Straight Pride event, and the counter-protesters reassembled in a nearby park.
While at least one of the right-wingers tried to suggest that the counter-protesters were “antifa,” pictures from the Bee just show a bunch of young people with rainbow gear — and a reporter spoke to a couple of young queer women from the Sacramento area who said they came down to protest the hate group.
Top image: SkySpider_/Twitter