A “Straight Pride” event organised by an anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion group ended in violence when the few dozen participants clashed with LGBTQ+ counter-protesters.
Police wearing tactical riot gear arrested three people and detained four before using pepper ball guns to clear out the area.
Modesto Police Department said around 250 people rowed outside a Planned Parenthood as part of a “Straight Pride” event organised by the National Straight Pride Coalition on Saturday (27 August), according to The Guardian. No one arrested lived in Stanislaus County.
The network touted the protest, now in its fourth year, as a celebration of “heterosexuality, masculinity, femininity, babies – born and unborn and Western straight civilization, our wonderful country and Christianity”, according to its website.
Just 30 National Straight Pride Coalition members joined the Proud Boys, a far-right group of “Western chauvinists” behind the Capitol riots, at the clinic on McHenry Avenue.
But hundreds of LGBTQ+ people had already assembled at the meeting point, leading to intense skirmishes between the two, police said. The force noted that the number of pro-LGBTQ+ counter-protesters far outnumbered Straight Pride-goers.
Counter-protesters came carrying signs reading “Fascists not welcome” and “Straight Pride is Hate Pride”.
Within 20 minutes, Modesto police declared an “unlawful assembly” and called on both groups to disperse after a firecracker ignited a bush and objects were thrown.
Officers aggresively pushed the LGBTQ+ activists back to Planned Parenthood’s car park as a large black SWAT-style truck pulled up behind them.
The Straight Pride attendees, meanwhile, had been moved to a Wendy’s parking lot behind the police line.
“We have two armies to go up against when we stand for our rights: we have to deal with the cops attacking us, and we’re about to get a second wave of right-wing extremists. We’re fearful of them attacking us as well,” one LGBTQ+ counter-protester told the Modesto Bee.
The Central California LGBTQ Coalition denounced the “Straight Pride” event in a Facebook statement, writing: “This is a flagrant disregard and bastardisation of the LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations everywhere.”
“This Straight Pride has been purposefully orchestrated to harm the LGBTQ+ community in Modesto and throughout the broader Central Californian area that we serve,” it added.
“Straight Pride” in 2021 ended almost exactly the same. The Central California LGBTQ Coalition organised a counter-protest to “fight ignorance with love and diversity”, the group wrote on Facebook at the time.